The Costs of Illegal Immigration to Coloradans (2008)

The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers, a new detailed fiscal cost study issued in 2010, supersedes the earlier state estimates in this study. The new estimate includes some cost areas not included in the state study below. This earlier state fiscal cost study remains on the website solely for comparison and because it also provides sources and methods of fiscal cost analysis that are not available with the new study.


Executive Summary

FAIR estimates that the annual fiscal burden on Colorado taxpayers from illegal immigration is nearly $1.1 billion. That equates to an annual cost of about $612 per native-born headed household. In addition, there is a cost to the state’s economy of roughly $730 million to $1 billion resulting from remittances sent abroad. Estimated tax collections from the illegal alien population of about $160 million would reduce the average per non-illegal immigrant headed household burden to about $520 per year. But it should be kept in mind that the departure of those illegal workers would not mean any drop in state revenue if they were replaced by U.S. or legal foreign workers. In that case, tax receipts should rise.

This study examines only the most visible portion of state fiscal costs of illegal immigration, i.e., expenditures related to education, medical care and incarceration. A number of other costs borne by Colorado taxpayers are not included in this study. In addition, a portion of Coloradan’s federal taxes are also going to cover costs associated with illegal immigration, such as the federal contributions to English instruction programs and partial reimbursements for medical costs and incarceration of illegal aliens. Therefore, the burden on Colorado taxpayers from illegal immigration described in this report is understated.

The nearly $1.1 billion fiscal burden borne by Colorado taxpayers annually result from outlays in the following areas:

  • Education Based on an estimate of 35,000 school-age illegal aliens and 49,000 U.S.-born school-aged children of illegal alien parents and estimated per pupil costs of $11,000 per year for public K-12 schooling, Coloradans spend about $925 million annually on educating the children of illegal immigrants. An additional $68 million is being spent annually on programs for limited English students, most of whom are likely children of illegal aliens. Those estimates exclude federal contributions to those programs.More than one in ten (10.8%) K-12 public school students in Colorado is the child of an illegal alien, and this share has grown as the illegal resident population has grown.
  • Health Care State-funded uncompensated outlays for health care provided to Colorado’s illegal alien population amount to more than an estimated $82 million a year. That is a net cost after crediting compensation from the federal government. Additionally, Coloradans who have medical insurance also pay higher medical insurance bills to help cover the costs of those without insurance.
  • Incarceration The cost of incarcerating deportable aliens in Colorado’s state and local prisons amounts to more than $38 million a year. This estimate also is a net amount after deducting compensation received from the federal government. It does not include short-term detention costs, related law enforcement and judicial expenditures, or the monetary impact of the crimes that result in incarceration.

Read the full report in pdf format.

December 2008