The Costs Of Illegal Immigration To Ohioans (2012)

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Executive Summary

Ohio has a rapidly growing illegal alien population of about 110,000 persons, nearly tripling since 2000. That population represents a major burden on the state's taxpayers and on the state budget. The costs imposed on law-abiding Ohioans are unfair and unwelcome even in the best of times, but are especially burdensome at a time when the state is facing an $8 billion revenue deficit which has led to a proposed slashing of funding for local governments by 25 percent in fiscal 2012 and by 50 percent in 2013.2   

  • Ohio's illegal immigrant population costs the state's taxpayers an estimated $879 million per year for education, medical care, law enforcement, social services and other government services. The annual fiscal burden amounts to about $200 per Ohio household headed by a U.S. citizen.
  • The largest share of those expenditures result from the cost of educating the children of illegal aliens in K-12 public schools. In addition to an estimated 9,480 illegal alien children, another 25,375 U.S.-born children of illegal aliens generate costs of $364 million.
  • Additional English language schooling for many of these same students in Limited English Proficiency classes cost an additional $145 million.
  • Medical services for illegal aliens and their U.S.-born children account for a fiscal burden of $84 million.
  • Law enforcement expenditures amount to about $79 million annually, of which about $32 million results from prison costs for more than 780 illegal alien prisoners.
  • The U.S.-born children of illegal aliens generate an additional burden of about $81 million annually in social welfare outlays.

Some state and local taxes are received from illegal immigrants — even from those working off the books. But, those same tax collections, or more likely an increased amount, would occur if the jobs were done by legal workers. So, unless it is illogically assumed that no legal U.S. or immigrant or foreign guestworker would do the jobs now done by illegal workers, it makes little sense to consider this a true offset to the tax burden. The estimated amount of the taxes currently collected from the illegal workers is about $18.8 million per year.

The fiscal costs of illegal immigration to Ohio's taxpayers do not end with these three major cost areas. They would be considerably higher if other cost areas such as assistance programs for needy families or welfare benefits for American workers displaced by illegal alien workers or lost or depressed wages were included in the calculation.

Any of the current proposals to adopt an amnesty for the illegal aliens would not lessen the burden if enacted. Rather, it would increase the access of this population to additional social welfare benefits and allow them to legally apply for the state's tax benefit known as the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The burden on the state's taxpayers is not inevitable. Policies can either discourage or encourage illegal immigration. Ohio's elected representatives at the national, state and local levels must answer to the voter if they adopt policies that encourage illegal immigration or if they fail to support measures that would lessen the burden.