The Cost Of Illegal Immigration In Texas
Illegal immigrants aren’t cheap. In fact, they cost America nearly $150 billion a year, just in terms of tax dollars and remittances.
But of course the illegal population isn’t dispersed evenly throughout the country: places like California have lots, while others, like Montana, have very few.
For example: in California, 1 in 6 school age children are illegal immigrants or anchor babies—no wonder aliens cost California some $30.29 billion a year.
But this raises another question; how much are other States paying?
In this article I look specifically at the cost of illegal immigration in Texas, which is home to an estimated 13% of America’s illegal aliens.
Illegal Immigrants Cost Texas $12.36 Billion A Year
Illegal immigrants, and their children, cost Texans a net $12.36 billion a year. That works out to roughly $6,000 per alien.
Of this, $10.03 billion came out of taxpayer pockets.
Given that Texas’s biennial budget for 2016-2017 was 209.4 billion this means that illegal immigrants eat up 9.6% of their budget ended up being spent spent on illegal immigrants.
Let’s look at it another way: for every $9 Texas spends on its citizens, it spends $1 on illegal aliens.
That’s just not right.
Texas has one of the most diverse and robust economies in the United States. They have a booming manufacturing sector and are contributing to the recent push towards energy independence for the entire country.
The additional burden of illegal immigrants on the welfare system (which granted, isn’t as lavish as California’s) eats up funds that could otherwise be invested in the economy (either directly, through maintaining high-quality infrastructure, or indirectly via lower taxes).
Either way, this would benefit Texas, and the US as a whole—it would trim the fat, so to speak.
What it boils down to is this: illegal immigrants take much more from the economy than they give back.
Let’s look at the numbers.
How Many Illegal Immigrants Are In America?
Fundamentally, we don’t know—they’re undocumented, they live off off the grid, and they’re hard to track.
Because of this, even the best of estimates can be vastly different.
Pew Research pegs the number of illegal immigrants in the US as roughly 11.1 million (the government says something similar).
This is at the low end, the bare minimum.
On the higher (more realistic) end, it’s estimated that there are 30 million aliens living in the US.
Ann Coulter argues that this number is more accurate. In her book Adios America she looked at non-conventional evidence such as remittance payment records, bank records, and migration projections from ICE, as well as more conventional tools like the burden on government services.
She reasoned that while the government has a vested political interest in ensuring the number of illegal immigrants remains low (the same logic applies to other metrics, like the unemployment), banks have a vested interest in keeping accurate accounting data—if they want to collect their money, they need to know who’s sending it.
I agree with Coulter, especially given the fact that the government estimates of the illegal population haven’t changed in a decade (and it’s not like people magically stopped overstaying their visas in the meantime)—think of it like this: the numbers haven’t changed much since 2005, and yet we know that there were roughly 1 million crossings on the southern border every year (not to mention the visa overstays, again).
Also, half a million people are apprehended at the border every year—they’re still trying (and probably succeeding) to get into America.
The stagnant number doesn’t make sense.
Nevertheless, in the interests of presenting a balanced argument, I’ll use the lowest possible estimate: 11.1 million. I think even with such a low number, the case against illegal immigration is closed—everything else is just icing on the cake.
OK, what about Texas?
There Are 2.06 Million Illegal Immigrants In Texas (Including Anchor Babies)
According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are 1,470,000 adult illegal immigrants living in Texas.
In addition, there are 588,000 children of illegal immigrants (509,000 of them would be considered anchor babies).
Summed up, there are 2.06 million illegal immigrants and their children living in Texas.
Facts About Illegal Immigrants In Texas
Let’s paint a better picture using current data from the MPI.
- 91% of illegal immigrants in Texas are from Latin America: 78% from Mexico, 4% from El Salvador, 4% from Honduras, and 3% from Guatemala, 2% other.
- 83% of Texas’ illegal aliens arrived in the last 20 years; 39% in the last 10.
- 60% of illegals have not completed high school education or a GED.
- 57% of aliens either speak English poorly, or not at all.
- 89% speak Spanish at home.
Overall, it is fair to say that the majority of Texas’ illegal immigrants are relatively uneducated, and therefore compete with US workers at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum.
What Is The Cost Of Illegal Immigration In Texas?
Education For Illegal Immigrants Costs $7.87 Billion
Anchor babies and undocumented children make education more expensive by crowding classrooms. This, in turn, reduces the quality of said education, because bigger classrooms mean more interruptions and less one-on-one time with the teacher.
Overall, illegals make public school worse and increase its costs.
As I said earlier, there are 509,000 anchor babies and 79,000 undocumented children living in Texas, which totals 588,000 children. And since they’re not going to private schools (go figure), that means you’re paying for them.
And for those who think they shouldn’t be educated, the sad thing is that if they weren’t in schools, we’d be stuck in a bizarre Oliver Twist meets el Chapo type situation—it’s better to have them in school than on the streets (of course, it’s better to have them back in Central America than in Texas).
Given that Texas’ total public school enrollment was 5,299,728 in 2016 (247,389 were enrolled in private charter schools), this means that 11.1% of students in Texas’ public schools are children of illegal immigrants of illegal immigrants themselves.
This may not seem like a big proportion, but remember, it should be 0%.
According to Texas’s state budget, $61 billion is spent on K-12 public schools. This number does not take into account spending on student courts or education services centers.
Given that 11.1% of student are illegals, this means illegals soak up $6.77 billion in educational costs.
Additionally, many of these children don’t speak English well and need supplemental English instruction?
The Federation for American Immigration Reform estimated that for 2014, ESL lessons cost Texan taxpayers $1.1 billion.
Ignoring the inevitable increases in costs from year to year, this means educating illegal immigrants and anchor babies costs Texas at least $7.87 billion a year.
Of course, this leaves out post-secondary education grants, pre-K education, and other financial assistance given to undocumented students and children of illegal immigrants.
Healthcare For Illegal Immigrants: $1.86 Billion
Texas inevitably provides healthcare for illegal immigrants, which significantly affects the quality of care for citizens by increasing wait times and lowering the physician-to-patient ratio.
Illegal immigrants withdraw roughly $1.03 billion in Medicaid and other public healthcare services (CHIP, CSHCN). They also result in $830 million of uncompensated emergency services.
This totals $1.86 billion per year.
However, these costs don’t necessarily accurately estimate the impact of illegals on the healthcare system, since it doesn’t quantify the opportunity costs (if we invested the money in better technology, or additional doctors, rather than treating illegal immigrants) or damage caused by the burdened system (suffering caused by long waiting times in crowded hospitals etc.)
Remittance Payments Cost Texas $2.33 Billion A Year
For a more detailed explanation of remittances see this article on illegal immigration.
Basically, a remittance is when someone sends money they made in one country (America) to another (Mexico).
America loses billions of dollars in remittances every year.
This is a rough calculation, but it will give you an idea of how much illegal immigrants draw from the economy:
According to Pew Research America lost $133.6 billion in remittances in 2015: most of which were sent by either first generation immigrants or illegals (assume per capita remittances between both groups is equal).
Of this $40.9 billion was sent from the US to Mexico and Central America, presumably by people from that region.
Given that there are 11.7 million legal immigrants from Mexico, and 3.1 million from Central America living in the USA, this gives as a pool of 14.8 million legal immigrants contributing to the remittance figures.
Additionally, because 74% of illegal immigrants are from Mexico or Central America, there are likewise 8.14 million illegals contributing.
Therefore, of the total Hispanic population assumed to be paying remittances, 35% are likely illegal immigrants. This works out to illegals paying out $14.31 billion to the region annually.
If we narrow this down to Texas, where 16.25% of total Hispanic illegal immigrants live (90% of Texas’s illegal immigrants are Hispanic), then we can determine that illegal immigrants cost Texas $2.33 billion every year.
Crimes Committed By Illegal Immigrants: $1.01 Billion
The additional costs imposed by crimes committed by illegal immigrants, which include policing, court, and incarceration costs, add up to $1.01 billion, according to the study done by the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
This includes an additional $455 million for policing, $180 million for court services, and $445 million for prisons.
As significant as this is, it doesn’t begin to approach the true costs of crime, which should rightly factor in lost productivity and intangible costs such as pain and suffering, and long-term social costs (such as a reduction in community cohesion and quality of life etc.).
These intangible costs (which are never included in such studies because of their vagueness) are likely significantly higher than the tangible costs.
For example, a study which estimated the average intangible costs of crimes (2008 dollars) shows that the real cost is much higher than the calculated costs for most crimes—especially for violent and sexual crimes.
The intangible costs are estimated based on special damages awarded by court proceedings.
|Type of Offense||Tangible Cost||Intangible Cost||Total Cost|
|Motor Vehicle Theft||$10,534||$262||$10,772|
|Forgery and Counterfeiting||$5,265||N/A||$5,265|
Were we to include intangible costs, even doubling the stated figure of $1.01 billion would probably understate the situation—it’s probably double or higher.
Government Administration & Services: $577 Million
Additional government administration and services costs in Texas due to illegal immigration are $577 million a year (again, according to FAIR).
This refers to things such as upkeep of parks, public recreation areas, libraries, roads, and fire departments.
This number doesn’t include intangible costs of systemic strain or adverse impacts on citizens’ qualities of life.
It also doesn’t include the effect on American citizens who need public services but can’t get them because illegal immigrants are flooding the system.
Tax Revenue: $1.27 Billion
Illegal immigrants actually do pay taxes, including consumption taxes (sales tax), property taxes, and payroll taxes. It’s estimated that they pay $1.27 billion in taxes in Texas.
This is significantly lower than what they draw from public services.
Annual Cost Of Illegal Immigration To Texas: $12.36 Billion
This number might seem low. This was done purposefully to show that even if we take the lowest estimates that are relied upon for illegal immigrant proponents, they still show the illegal immigrants take a a ridiculous amount more than they give.
It’s not even close.
But let’s just consider some other cost qualifiers that, if calculated (or even calculable), would provide an even more dire picture for illegal immigration.
To start, as I said at the outset, the number of illegals is likely very far from the truth.
If we used the illegal immigrant estimate from Adios America of 30-50 million illegal immigrants (likely much closer to the truth), and assume similar proportions, we would be somewhere in the ballpark of around $35 billion to 60 billion a year; just for Texas!
To put that in perspective that costs more than the entire wall across the southern border.
Regarding education, these costs don’t take into account the cost of reduced quality of education because of overcrowded classrooms and other burdens. Further, it doesn’t take into account the language barrier in learning as well as the impact it has on the other English-fluent children in the classroom.
For healthcare, additional wait times can literally be life or death situations. Having an increased load on doctors and emergency workers can cost often unforeseen additional amounts. For example, if someone with who’s illness worsens in the time it takes to see a doctor.
Reduced quality of services (including healthcare, education, justice, and governmental administration services) all have snowballing effects too. For example, that same person’s illness has now worsened and now needs to take even more total time in the healthcare system over the course of their life, thus pushing more patients to wait longer.
These things compound.
Here’s another example; one student in the classroom needs extra time with the teacher, but he can’t get help because an undocumented child also needs that time from the teacher. This student now does not understand the concept as well as they move forward with the class—he now has a harder time learning subsequent lessons, and ends up permanently behind.
This happens all the time.
Now these children that have come out of the public education system have to spend time catching up (as a whole). Perhaps they take longer to get into college, or have lower confidence etc.
You get the point.
Also, none of these estimates take in the intangible costs such as: pain and suffering, lost opportunity costs, technology investment, automation investment, potential black swan events, reduced social cohesion, lost productivity due to language barriers, political costs, higher crime rates and whatever else you can think of.
How Do We Fix It?
Three things need to be done: build the wall, deport the illegals, stop incentivizing illegal immigration.
Hopefully by now, just by looking at Texas’s cost of illegal immigration, you can see that the wall would be a good investment—especially since most of Texas’ illegals simply walked in.
But it’s not just the wall. We need to start deporting illegal immigrants at a much faster rate than they are coming in. We should start with the criminals (even though they’re all technically criminals).
This has to be done in tandem with building the wall. There’s no point to deporting illegals who will just come back in. It’s like bailing water out of a boat with holes in it; futile.
Lastly, we must stop providing welfare benefits to illegal aliens. Don’t provide them healthcare, or education, or any of it. It may sound harsh, but taxpayers in America pay for Americans to have education, not Chileans, not Saudi Arabians, and not Mexicans—whether they’re on our soil or not.
If we stopped the welfare benefits I wouldn’t be surprised if many illegals self-deported. Many of them come to mooch off the system—don’t let them and they will leave.
Texas, much like California, cannot afford the costs of illegal immigration forever.
We must act now.