(Washington, D.C. October 15, 2012) A new study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) estimates that illegal immigration costs taxpayers in Washington State about $2.7 billion annually. The average Washington household headed by a U.S. citizen bears an annual burden of about $970 to cover the costs associated with illegal aliens in the state. Moreover, the costs associated with illegal immigration are about equal to the amount lawmakers had to slash from the state budget to close a projected shortfall.
The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Aliens on Washingtonians examines the cost of providing services and benefits to the state’s 275,000 illegal aliens and 104,000 dependent U.S.-born children. The report also looks at the costs associated with the administration of criminal justice and incarceration of criminal illegal aliens.
Among the key findings of The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Aliens on Washingtonians:
- The cost of providing K-12 education to an estimated 127,000 children of illegal aliens (including students who are themselves illegal and the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens) amounts to $1.6 billion annually.
- Washington voluntarily provides $3.8 million annually in subsidized in-state tuition benefits for illegal aliens attending public colleges and universities, even as public higher education budgets are being slashed.
- Unreimbursed health care and social assistance programs cost Washingtonians $652 million a year.
- Justice and law enforcement costs associated with illegal aliens add $172 million to the state’s tab.
“Washington lawmakers have laid out the welcome mat for illegal aliens, while struggling Washington taxpayers are getting stuck with the bills,” observed Dan Stein, president of FAIR. “At the state and local level, political leaders have bent over backwards to accommodate and welcome illegal aliens. Most of the state’s major jurisdictions provide sanctuary to illegal aliens. The state has even gone so far as to reduce misdemeanor sentences to 364 days to prevent criminal aliens from being subject to deportation under federal law. In addition, Washington remains one of only two states to issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. All this generosity to illegal aliens is coming out of the pockets of law-abiding taxpayers, or in the form of diminished services and higher costs to everyone else in Washington.”
The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Aliens on Washingtonians estimates that illegal aliens pay about $203 million in taxes to the state each year, representing only tiny fraction of their cost. However, the report explains that the state would likely realize much greater tax revenues if the estimated 190,000 Washington jobs held by illegal aliens were filled by legal workers. Washington’s 8.6 percent unemployment rate is considerably above the national average.
“It is time that state officials begin reckoning with the true costs of their policy decisions with regard to illegal immigration,” stated Stein. “While states lack the authority to regulate immigration, there are many things that they can do to discourage illegal aliens from settling within their jurisdictions. In recent years other states have demonstrated that sensible policies can reduce the illegal alien population and associated costs. Unfortunately, Washington officials have chosen a different path and with it, $2.7 billion in costs each year.”
The full report, The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Aliens on Washingtonians is available on FAIR's website.