The Costs of Illegal Immigration to Georgians (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

Georgia has a fast growing illegal alien population estimated at about 495,000 persons, and the fiscal burden on Georgians resulting from public services used by that population are similarly growing rapidly. The federal government estimated Georgia’s illegal alien population at 228,000 persons as of 2000 and it raised that estimate to 490,000 persons in 2008.1 The federal estimates suggest that over 90 percent of the increase in the foreign-born population in Georgia since 2000 has resulted from illegal immigration.

This rapid rise in Georgia’s illegal alien population has prompted the state legislature to take action to discourage illegal immigrant settlement in the state.2 These efforts are a positive responsive to public opinion in the state. A 2006 state poll found that more than three-fourths (78%) of likely voters said that it is “important” that the state legislature restrict state services to illegal aliens.3 It remains to be seen to what extent the state’s action when fully implemented will reverse the growth trend.

FAIR estimates that the annual fiscal burden on Georgia taxpayers from illegal immigration is more than $1.6 billion. That equates to an annual cost of about $523 per native-born headed household. Estimated tax collections from the illegal alien population of about $273 million would reduce that per native-headed household burden to about $434 per year. But it should be kept in mind that the departure of those illegal workers would not necessarily mean any drop in state revenue. If they were replaced by U.S. or legal foreign workers, tax receipts might 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 Georgia taxpayers are not included in this study. In addition, a portion of Georgian’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 Georgia taxpayers from illegal immigration described in this report is understated.

The more than $1.6 billion fiscal burden borne by Georgia taxpayers annually result from outlays in the following areas:

  • Education. Based on an estimate of 64,100 school-age illegal aliens and 89,700 U.S.-born school-aged children of illegal aliens and estimated per pupil costs of $8,500 per year for public K-12 schooling, Georgians spend about $1.37 billion annually on educating the children of illegal immigrants. An additional $81 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. Nearly one in ten (9.7%) K-12 public school students in Georgia is the child of an illegal alien, and this presence has been increasing as the illegal resident population increases.
  • Health Care. State-funded uncompensated outlays for health care provided to Georgia’s illegal alien population amount to an estimated $210 million a year. That is a net cost after crediting compensation from the federal government. Additionally, Georgians 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 Georgia’s state and local prisons amounts to about $22.6 million a year. This estimate also is a net amount after deducting compensation 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.

October 2008