Reformer: Illegal Immigrants Cost Pa. Taxpayers $728 Million Yearly

Craig Smith, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 14, 2009

Illegal immigrants are costing Pennsylvania taxpayers about $728 million a year for education, medical care and incarceration, the head of a national immigration reform group said Thursday.

The annual fiscal burden amounts to about $150 per Pennsylvania household headed by a native-born resident, said Dan Stein, president of the Federation of American Immigration Reform, or FAIR.

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Costs could go even higher under the Obama administration’s massive health care overhaul, Stein said. The plan contains loopholes that will allow illegal immigrants to receive taxpayer-funded benefits, he said.

About 1.1 million legal immigrants enter the United States each year, said John L. Martin, FAIR’s director of special projects and author of a new report on the cost to the state of illegal immigrants.

The report estimated that Pennsylvanians spend about $660 million a year on education for an estimated 48,500 children of illegal aliens, which includes about $150 million for special English instruction to an estimated 34,200 children.

Taxpayer-funded, unreimbursed medical expenses for health care provided to illegal aliens in Pennsylvania are about $50 million a year, and it costs more than $17.5 million a year to incarcerate illegal aliens in state, county and independent city prisons in Pennsylvania, the report said.

The state has a rapidly growing illegal alien population of about 140,000, nearly tripling since 2000, FAIR said. Between 2000 and 2008, the state’s foreign-born population grew by 34.5 percent while its native-born population decreased by 0.1 percent.

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Stein said immigration caps will help maintain a stable flow of highly trained, highly skilled workers and allow the country to better manage its growth.

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