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.
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.
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.