The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on North Carolinians (2014)


Executive Summary

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After a brief hiatus that coincided with the worst of the economic recession, North Carolina's illegal alien population is on the rise again. There are about 410,000 illegal aliens in the state, 25,000 (6.5%) more than in 2007. This concentration of illegal aliens — 4.3 percent of the overall population — is higher than the national average of 3.9 percent, and ranks North Carolina as the 11th most impacted state in the country.

Illegal immigration costs North Carolina taxpayers about $2 billion per year. That amounts to about $578 for every household headed by a native-born or naturalized U.S. citizen.

Half of the fiscal expenditures result from the costs of K-12 education for the children of illegal aliens — both those in the country illegally and those born here to illegal aliens. Another major outlay results from the need to provide supplemental English language instruction to students with Limited English Proficiency. Together, these educational costs are more than two-thirds of all expenditures. Other fiscal outlays include health care, justice and law enforcement, public assistance and general government services.

Tax revenue is collected from the illegal alien population, but the taxes paid — estimated at about $288 million per year — do not come close to paying for the outlays. In this study we include an estimate of revenue from income, property, sales and "sin" taxes. It should be kept in mind however that similar or greater tax revenue would be collected if the same jobs were occupied by legal workers rather than by illegal workers.

North Carolina's fiscal burden is not inevitable. States can discourage the arrival of illegal residents by measures such as requiring the use of the E-Verify system for all new employees. North Carolina enacted an E-Verify requirement in 2011, but in 2013 its General Assembly undermined the effectiveness of that provision by enacting HB 786, which expands a major loophole in the requirement.

Relief from the fiscal burden of illegal immigration would not be achieved by enacting amnesty legislation such as Senate bill S. 774.  The only sure way to reduce the fiscal burden from illegal aliens is to reduce the size of that population. Conversely, policies that invite additional illegal alien residents will only increase the fiscal burden.