The Costs of Illegal Immigration to Arizonans (2004)
June 2004 | View the Full Report (PDF)
The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers, a new detailed fiscal cost study issued in 2017, 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.
Analysis of the latest Census data indicates that Arizona’s illegal immigrant population is costing the state’s taxpayers about $1.3 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration. Even if the estimated tax contributions of illegal immigrant workers are subtracted, net outlays still amount to about $1.3 billion per year. The annual fiscal burden borne by Arizonans amounts to more than $700 per household headed by a native-born resident.
This analysis looks specifically at the costs of education, health care and incarceration because they represent the largest cost areas and because a 1994 study conducted by the Urban Institute, which also examined these same costs, provides a useful baseline for comparison ten years later. Other studies have been conducted in the interim, showing trends that support the conclusions of this report.
As this report will note, other significant costs associated with illegal immigration exist and should be taken into account by federal and state officials. But even without accounting for all of the multitude of areas in which costs are being incurred by Arizona taxpayers, the programs analyzed in this study indicate that the burden is substantial and that the costs are rapidly increasing.
The $1.3 billion in costs incurred by Arizona taxpayers is comprised of outlays in the following areas:
- Education. Based on estimates of the illegal immigrant population in Arizona and documented costs of K-12 schooling, Arizonans spend approximately $820 million annually on education for illegal immigrant children and for their U.S.-born siblings.
- Health Care. Uncom-pensated medical outlays for health care provided to the state’s illegal alien population is now estimated at about $400 million a year.
- Incarceration. The cost of incarcerating illegal aliens in Arizona prisons and jails amounts to about $80 million a year (not including the monetary costs of the crimes that led to their incarceration).
The unauthorized immigrant population pays some state and local taxes that go toward offsetting these costs, but they do not come near to matching the expenses. The total of such payments might generously be estimated at $257 million per year.
The fiscal costs of illegal immigration do not end with these three major cost items. The total costs of illegal immigration to the state’s taxpayers would be considerably higher if other costs such as special English instruction, school nutrition programs, or welfare benefits for American workers displaced by illegal alien workers were added into the equation.