Jon Coupal: Illegal immigration is a taxpayer issue

Conservatives are not always in agreement on the contentious issue of immigration. Those of a Libertarian inclination are more accepting of robust legal immigration while others believe that the United States has done more than its fair share of accepting those from other nations. The latter would like to see more progress on assimilation before opening the borders even more.

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But two things are certain. First, conservatives will always be characterized by the left as being anti-immigrant – even when they are not – and those on the left rarely distinguish between legal and illegal immigration.

Serious taxpayer advocates can be strong advocates of legal immigration while, at the same time, push back against policies that cost Americans billions, if not trillions, of dollars. A recent piece by Steven Malanga in City Journal entitled “Illegal Immigration’s Terrifying Cost,” is a well-researched review of how illegal immigration is having a negative impact on sound fiscal policy at both the national and state level.

Opposing point of view: America is the land of the free, open the border

Legal immigration isn’t as politicized as illegal immigration because the cost and social ills from the undocumented population are huge. At the forefront of the political battles are the governors of border states, most notably Texas. And while Florida isn’t technically a border state, it has a large undocumented population bringing unique problems that frustrates the political leadership, especially its governor.

Malanga reports that Florida hospitals have incurred hundreds of millions of dollars in uncompensated costs for care to migrants. Governor Ron DeSantis justifiably complains the state’s taxpayers have had to foot the bill so, in response, he has spent public funds to transport thousands of undocumented individuals to so-called “sanctuary” cities on the theory that those states should practice what they preach. “If the policy is to have an open border, I think the sanctuary cities should be the ones that have to bear that,” said DeSantis.

Malanga also reports that “New York, a sanctuary city since 1989, spent $8 million a day throughout much of this year to care for migrants,” and that Boston and Cambridge – both sanctuary cities – had difficulty expanding their shelter system to meet the influx. Costs to taxpayers? $140 million.

For all the billions in additional costs spent nationally responding to the illegal immigration crisis, some far-left states including California, Illinois, and New York, have compounded the problem by extending access for illegal immigrants to social programs like Medicaid – Medi-Cal in California – and other welfare programs. An excerpt from a California Legislative Analyst Report in October noted a line item of “$1.2 billion General Fund for the scheduled expansion of eligibility for comprehensive Medi-Cal services to undocumented residents between the ages of 26 and 49. These amounts are considerably higher than estimated in past budgets.”

Bear in mind that all the costs for social welfare programs are exclusive of the billions in additional costs to the education system, criminal justice system, and emergency services. For example, consider the recent incident involving the fire that shut down the 10 freeway in downtown Los Angeles. Venice Neighborhood Council board member Soledad Ursua wrote in a piece for City Journal that “of the LAFD’s $854 million annual budget, roughly $427 million is spent on homeless-related fires. If Los Angeles simply enforced its existing fire code, it would protect businesses and save taxpayers millions of dollars.” Much of the homeless population in Los Angeles consists of undocumented individuals.

Malanga also refutes the argument that the public costs associated with illegal immigration are offset by the taxes the undocumented pay. First, much of the compensation paid for work performed by undocumented workers is “under the table” and remains untaxed. But the real “flaw in this reasoning is that immigrant households already receive tens of thousands of dollars in government benefits, just by virtue of being in the United States, and that what most get in support far outweighs any taxes they pay.”

Click here to read the full artucle in the OC Register

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