In a prior analysis, we estimated that the average net fiscal cost (taxes paid minus services used) of an illegal immigrant was $65,292 during their lifetime — excluding their U.S.-born children. This came to $65.3 billion per million illegal immigrants. The figures were expressed in 2016 dollars. Adjusted to 2018 dollars, it would be $69,570 per illegal immigrant, or $69.6 billion per million illegal immigrants.
This net figure is based on estimates of the fiscal impact of immigrants by education level developed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS). My analysis takes the education level of illegal immigrants and applies it to the lifetime net fiscal deficit, or fiscal surplus, created by immigrants at each level of education. As we pointed out in the earlier analysis, the cost of a deportation (technically referred as a removal) is much less, averaging only about $6,000 to $11,000 per person.
The reason illegal immigrants are unambiguously a net fiscal drain is that less-educated people, native-born or immigrant, earn on average modest wages and as a result they tend to make modest tax contributions, while needing significant social services. As we pointed out in our prior study, research by the Center for Immigration Studies, the Pew Research Center, the Heritage Foundation, and others have all found that a very large share of illegal immigrants have relatively few years of schooling — most have not completed high school or have only a high school education. The fiscal drain illegal immigrants create is not because they are all lazy and on welfare, nor it simply because they often work off the books and don’t pay taxes. Rather they tend to earn wages commensurate with their education levels and, as result, they typically have low incomes on average, though there are individual exceptions. Those with low incomes as a group, regardless of legal status, use more in public services than they pay in taxes. It’s why cities and states worry so much about losing their middle- and upper-income tax base. It is middle- and upper-income residents who pay most of the taxes, which does not describe the average illegal immigrant.
By Steven A. Camarota for CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES
Read Full Article HERE