WTVF-TV (Nashville), November 7, 2007
A new report puts a price tag on how much illegal immigrants cost Tennessee taxpayers.
It is close to $300 million every year, according to the study conducted the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a nonprofit research group.
It contradicts a report by the state comptroller’s office released in August that indicated undocumented immigrants boosted the economy and did not take jobs from any Tennessee workers.
Jack Martin’s team of researchers at FAIR investigated the cost of illegal immigration in Tennessee.
The cost is $255 million each year for education from kindergarten through the twelfth grade and ESL programs. Martin estimates an additional $30 million is spent on healthcare and incarceration, bringing the total to $285 million.
“One of the main differences the comptroller’s report was also trying to calculate the value of goods and services provided by the illegal immigrants,” Martin said. “And that doesn’t really make any sense unless you’re working on the assumption that those jobs wouldn’t be done by Americans if the illegal immigrants were not taking those jobs.”
“There’s no job in the United States being done only by illegal aliens, so you know there are Americans working alongside illegal aliens,” he said.
If Tennesseans are spending million to educate illegal immigrants is that really a bad thing?
“I will never consider investing on education as something that is detrimental to our growth and development,” said Yuri Cunza, president of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
A Tennessee Department of Education spokeswoman said it’s hard to estimate just how many children of illegal immigrants are actually in the state school system. Federal law prohibits school officials from asking about a student’s immigration status.