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A public policy blog from AEI
Here’s the basic math from the Heritage Foundation study on the fiscal impact of legalizing undocumented workers: In 2010, the average undocumented immigrant household received around $25,000 in government benefits and services while paying roughly $10,000 in taxes. From the study: “This generated an average annual fiscal deficit (benefits received minus taxes paid) of around $14,387 per household.”
After what Heritage calls “amnesty,” that fiscal deficit would rise:
At the end of the interim period, unlawful immigrants would become eligible for means-tested welfare and medical subsidies under Obamacare. Average benefits would rise to $43,900 per household; tax payments would remain around $16,000; the average fiscal deficit (benefits minus taxes) would be about $28,000 per household.
Those numbers form the statistical nugget behind the claim that over a lifetime, “the former unlawful immigrants together would … generate a lifetime fiscal deficit (total benefits minus total taxes) of $6.3 trillion” in constant 2010 dollars.
OK, here’s what vexes me:
1. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 80% of the children of undocumented parents were born here — some 4.5 million kids — and are thus US citizens. Americans.
2. Of that nearly $25,000 ($24,721 to specific) in government benefits and services going to undocumented households, education spending averaged $13,627 in 2010, while means-tested aid (going mainly to the US-born children in the family) averaged $4,497. So we are talking roughly $18,000.
3. In other words, around 40% of the spending under “amnesty” would be going toward US citizens. And that accounts for nearly two-thirds of the fiscal deficit. In other words, two-thirds of the fiscal deficit is already baked into the cake unless you are going to deport all those undocumented immigrant parents, and they take their children with them. I mean, is that the counterfactual here? Really?
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