The Costs of Illegal Immigration to Nevadans (2009)

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

Contributing to its status as the fastest growing state in the country, Nevada has a rapidly growing illegal alien population of about 210,000 persons. While the state’s native-born population has grown since 2000 by 24 percent, the foreign-born population has grown by 61 percent. As this report will detail, Nevada’s illegal alien population represents a major burden on the state’s taxpayers and on the state budget. These costs imposed on law-abiding Nevadans are unfair and unwelcome even in the best of times, but are especially burdensome at a time when the state is confronting a major budget shortfall.

In 2008, the foreign-born population in Nevada represented nearly one in every five residents (19.6%), and illegal aliens constitute nearly one in every twelve residents (8.1%). The share of children of immigrants is even higher. More than one-in-three (36.2%) Nevada residents under age 18 in 2006 had an immigrant parent.

The rapid growth of the illegal alien population prompted the state legislature to adopt laws in 2007 dealing with human smuggling and exploitation and to bring the state driver’s licensing into compliance with federal REAL ID standards. Additionally, the Las Vegas Police Department entered into a Section 287(g) agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in September 2008. This program provides training and deputizes local law enforcement personnel to work cooperatively in immigration law enforcement.

These measures are a response to public concern about illegal immigration and support for the adoption of strong measures to discourage illegal settlement in the state. An October 2007 poll of Nevada registered voters found that 59 percent believed that “a tough approach to immigration” is preferable to an amnesty and guest worker program. That was nearly double the share of voters, i.e. 31 percent, who supported the amnesty approach. By wide margins, Nevadans believe that illegal immigration has a negative impact on the state budget. A January 2009 Zogby International poll found that more than more than three-fourths of Nevada voters (76.5%) believe that the impact of illegal immigration on the state budget is “very negative” or “somewhat negative.” The same poll found that more than three-fifths (60.4%) of Nevada voters think that enacting an amnesty for illegal aliens would “add to the state’s fiscal crisis,” compared with less than one-fifth (19.4%) who say amnesty would “ease the state’s fiscal crisis.”

To the extent that tough enforcement measures discourage illegal aliens from coming to the state and encourage those already in the state to leave, they should contribute to the efforts of local elected officials to cope with the projected budget deficit.

Read the full report in pdf format.

February 2009