The Costs of Illegal Immigration to Tennesseeans (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

Tennessee has a fast growing illegal alien population that now exceeds 100,000 persons, and the fiscal burden on Tennesseeans resulting from services provided to that population are similarly growing rapidly. That estimate means that nearly half of the estimated 210,000 foreign-born residents in the state are illegal residents. We estimate that the annual fiscal burden on the state’s taxpayers is about $285 million. That equates to a cost per native-born headed household of more than $122.

The cost areas discussed in this analysis (education, health care and crime related to illegal immigration) all represent major fiscal burdens to Tennesseeans. This study takes into account the findings of a report prepared by the office of Tennessee's Comptroller of the Treasury in August 2007 and reaches significantly different conclusions.

Even without accounting for all areas in which costs associated with illegal immigration are being incurred by Tennessee taxpayers, the program areas analyzed in this study indicate that the burden is substantial. The $285 million in costs incurred by Tennessee taxpayers annually result from outlays in the following areas:

  • Education. Based on an estimate of the 100,000 illegal immigrants in Tennessee in 2007 and estimated per pupil costs of $7,850 per year for public K-12 schooling, Tennesseeans spend nearly $228 million annually on education for the children of illegal immigrants. An additional more than $27 million is being spent annually on programs for limited English students who likely are children of illegal aliens.

  • Health care. Taxpayer-funded, unreimbursed medical outlays for health care provided to the states’ illegal alien population amount to an estimated $22.7 million a year. Only a small fraction of medical costs are offset by compensation from the federal government. This estimate does not include higher medical bills and insurance costs to offset uncompensated costs of the hospitals.

  • Incarceration. The uncompensated cost of incarcerating deportable illegal aliens in Tennessee state and local prisons amounts to about $5.7 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.

Read the full report in pdf format.

November 2007