The Costs of Illegal Immigration to Iowans (2007)

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

Iowa has a fast growing illegal alien population of at least 55,000 persons, and the fiscal burden on Iowans resulting from services provided to that population are similarly growing rapidly. Comparing this number with the federal government estimate of 24,000 illegal immigrants in 2000 suggests that the illegal resident alien population has grown by roughly 31,000 persons — an increase of 130 percent — over the past seven years. A comparison of the entire foreign-born population residing in Iowa in the 2000 Census — including legal and illegal immigrants and some long-term nonimmigrants, such as foreign students — with the estimated size of that foreign-born population in 2006 also shows an increase of about 31,000 people. This suggests that virtually all of the increase in the foreign-born population in Iowa since 2000 has been by illegal residents.

This rapid rise in the illegal alien population in Iowa since 2000 has coincided with the implementation of a program termed the New Iowans Project. The New Iowans centers are still operating in the state.

FAIR estimates that the annual fiscal burden on Iowa taxpayers today from illegal immigration is at least $241 million. That equates to an annual cost of about $172 per native-born headed Iowa household after accounting for taxes collected from illegal workers.

This study takes into account the findings of a report prepared by Iowa’s Legislative Services Agency (LSA) in February 2007 and by the Iowa Policy Project (IPP) in response to the LSA report. Our estimates, based on a different methodology, reveal a greater fiscal burden than reported in either of those studies. Even without accounting for all areas in which costs associated with illegal immigration are being incurred by Iowa taxpayers, the program areas analyzed in this study indicate that the burden is substantial. The nearly one-quarter billion dollar costs incurred by Iowa taxpayers annually result from outlays in the following areas:

  • Education. Based on an estimate of 8,645 school-age illegal aliens and 12,100 U.S.-born children of illegal aliens in Iowa and estimated per pupil costs of $8,450 per year for public K-12 schooling, Iowans spend about $175.3 million annually on education for the children of illegal immigrants. An additional estimated $13 million is being spent annually on programs for limited English students who are likely children of illegal aliens. More than four percent of the K-12 public school students in Iowa are children of illegal aliens, and this share has been increasing as the illegal resident population increases and the overall public school enrollment has decreased slightly

  • Health care. State-funded uncompensated medical outlays for health care provided to Iowa’s illegal alien population amount to an estimated $48.3 million a year. This estimate does not include higher medical bills and insurance costs that Iowans who have medical insurance pay to cover the costs of those without insurance.

  • Incarceration. The uncompensated cost of incarcerating deportable illegal aliens in Iowa’s state and local prisons amounts to nearly $4.9 million a year. This estimate excludes compensation from the federal government, short-term detention costs, related law enforcement and judicial expenditures, as well as the monetary costs of the crimes that led to incarceration.

Read the full report in pdf format.

December 2007