Pew Study Shows Illegal Aliens Uneducated and a Burden to America’s Health Care System

FAIR Legislative Update, Federation for American Immigration Reform, April 20, 2009

Last week, the Pew Hispanic Center released a report entitled “A Portrait of Unauthorized Immigrants” in the United States providing some of the most recent and detailed statistics available about illegal aliens living in the United States. These statistics reveal that at a time when America can least afford additional financial and economic burdens, illegal aliens are straining taxpayers in regards to health care, education, and other social services.

The Pew Hispanic study reveals that illegal immigration is placing a strain on America’s education system. Children of illegal aliens now represent 6.8% of the total population of students enrolled in Kindergarten through 12th Grade, up from 5.4% in 2003. In five states–Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, and Texas–10% of K through 12 students have parents who are illegal aliens. (Id. at 9).

Pew’s data also reveals that illegal aliens are far less educated than the U.S. population as a whole. Pew states that illegal alien adults between the ages of 25 and 64 are disproportionately uneducated and unskilled when compared to U.S. citizens or legal immigrants. Nearly 29% of illegal aliens in the United States possess “less than a ninth-grade education; an additional 18% have some high school education but have not completed high school.” This compares to 2% and 6% of U.S. citizens in that age range who, respectively, have not reached the ninth-grade level or the equivalent of a high school degree. (Id. at 10). Younger illegal aliens (ages 18 to 24) do not fare much better: 40% of illegal aliens in that age group have not completed high school, compared to 15% of legal immigrants and 8% of U.S. citizens in the same age group (Id. at 11-12).

Pew Hispanic states that the fact that illegal aliens tend to be unskilled and uneducated reveals why illegal alien adults are also disproportionately represented among the poor. Pew found that 21% of illegal aliens inside the United States are considered “poor” (compared to 13% of legal immigrant adults and 10% of U.S. citizen adults). Additionally, illegal alien adults and their U.S.-born children account for 11% of the total U.S. population living below the poverty level, “twice their representation in the total population.” (Id. at 17).

The Pew report contained figures concerning the impact of illegal aliens on the American health care system as well. Pew reports that 59% of illegal aliens, 45% of illegal alien children, and 25% of U.S.-born children of illegal aliens lacked health insurance in 2007. This last figure stands in stark contrast to the 8% of children of U.S. citizen parents who were uninsured in 2007. (Id. at 18).

[Editor’s Note: The Pew Hispanic Center’s report entitled “A Portrait of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States” can be read or downloaded as a PDF file here.]

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