Posted on March 8, 2024

Influx of Migrant Children Costs the Public School System an Estimated $2 Billion Per Year: Report

Kendall Tietz, Fox News, March 6, 2024

An estimated three million illegal immigrants poured into the country in fiscal year 2023, according to a report by the Heritage Foundation on the consequences of migrants on American schools. And, while there is not currently a reliable count of the total enrollment of children in public schools who were brought to the U.S. illegally, indications are that the influx is costing American taxpayers billions of dollars.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has encountered more than 470,000 unaccompanied migrant children since Joe Biden became president in 2021. Most of them have been enrolled in America’s public schools, likely costing the public education system billions of dollars over the past 3 years, as public schools are required by law to enroll minors regardless of immigration status.

The CBP encountered 145,474 accompanied and unaccompanied minors nationwide in FY 2023. Based on the national average spending of $16,345 per student, if each such child enrolled in public schools, it would increase national education spending by more than $2 billion for one year, according to the Heritage report’s facesheet.


The report looked at instances in California, New York, Texas and Arizona where unaccompanied minors were sent to sponsors, according to data from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), a government agency under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

For example, in California, 11,121 unaccompanied migrant children were sent to sponsors. If all those children enrolled in public school, at the state average spending of $16,975 per pupil, that equates to an additional cost of about $189 million for one year.

The report similarly found that in New York, 8,477 unaccompanied migrant children were sent to sponsors. The state spends $28,261 on each pupil per year, making the total additional cost to taxpayers close to $240 million for one year.

In Texas, 16,394 unaccompanied migrant children have been released to sponsors; with a cost of $13,900 per pupil, those additional students cumulatively cost close to an additional $228 million for one year. In Arizona, 861 unaccompanied migrant children were released to sponsors and if the state spends $11,625 per pupil annually, that means Arizona’s taxpayers will foot the bill of more than $10 million in one year.