The Costs of Illegal Immigration to New Yorkers (2006)

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

Analysis based on current estimates of the illegal alien population residing in New York indicates that population is costing the state’s taxpayers more than $5.1 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration. That annual tax burden amounts to about $874 per New York household headed by a native-born resident. Even if the estimated $730 million in sales, income and property taxes collected from illegal immigrants are subtracted from the fiscal outlays, net costs still amount to more than $4.5 billion per year.

The three cost areas discussed in this analysis (education, health care and incarceration resulting from illegal immigration) are the major cost areas. They are the same three program areas analyzed in a 1994 study conducted by the Urban Institute, which provides a useful baseline for comparison. Other studies have been conducted in the interim, showing trends that support the conclusions of this report.

Even without accounting for all of the numerous other areas in which costs associated with illegal immigration are being incurred by New York taxpayers, the program areas analyzed in this study indicate that the burden is substantial and that the costs are rapidly increasing.

The more than $5.1 billion in costs incurred by New York taxpayers annually result from outlays in the following areas:

  • Education. Based on estimates of the illegal immigrant population in New York and documented costs of K-12 schooling, New Yorkers spend more than $4.3 billion annually on education for the children of illegal immigrants. This estimate does not include programs for limited English students, remedial educational programs or breakfast and lunch programs available to students from low-income families. An estimated 11.7 percent of the K-12 public school students in New York are children of illegal aliens. 

  • Health care. Taxpayer-funded, unreimbursed medical outlays for health care provided to the state’s illegal alien population amount to an estimated $690 million a year.

  • Incarceration. The uncompensated cost of incarcerating deportable illegal aliens in New York’s state and local prisons amounts to about $165 million a year. This estimate includes only prison costs and not short-term or other detention costs, related law enforcement and judicial expenditures, or the monetary costs of the crimes that led to incarceration.

The fiscal costs of illegal immigration borne by state taxpayers do not end with these three major cost areas. The total local costs of illegal immigration is considerably higher if other cost areas such as preventive health programs, special English instruction, interpretation services in courts and hospitals, welfare programs used by the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens, or welfare benefits for American workers displaced by illegal alien workers are also calculated.

If illegal immigrants obtained legal work status, and eventual permanent residence and possible citizenship, as currently advocated by the Bush administration and approved by the U.S. Senate, state income tax collections might increase, but this likely would be outweighed by increased eligibility for public services available to low-income families. In addition, the possibility for family members of the current illegal alien population to come to the United States to reunite families would increase the size of the poverty and near-poverty population using public services.

Read the full report in pdf format.

November 2006