As record numbers of illegal aliens continue to flood across our southern border, they are being dispersed into every congressional district in the country, making every state a border state. We’re told they’re merely coming to seek a better life. And while that’s true for many, why do open-borders advocates ignore the enormous toll on Americans that comes in the form of higher taxes, overloaded emergency rooms, increased crime in their communities, and overcrowded classrooms for their children?
This is the first in a series of articles covering the heavy financial and human toll that illegal immigration is taking on the states and their citizens.
Annually, illegal immigration now costs taxpayers billions of dollars a year. For instance, in states far away from the southern border like Illinois, that cost was $4.59 billion in 2022. That’s $930 per household. Every year.
The far-reaching effects of the influx through our southern border are clear. Our communities bear the costs of illegal immigration caused by the Biden administration’s anti-enforcement and open border policies.
Border communities have long been overwhelmed under these policies. The crisis now costs California $21.76 billion and Texas $8.88 billion annually in education, health care, law enforcement and criminal justice system costs, welfare expenditures, and more. Border states are often the subject of shocking reports of epidemics of violent attacks, taxpayers footing the bill for illegal aliens’ health care costs, and increased property destruction.
However, there is more to the story. Considering the droves of illegal aliens the government is settling throughout the country and the sheer number already in the interior of the U.S.—an estimated 15.5 million in 2021—let’s consider a few examples of the specific, ever-increasing costs to communities and states all across the nation.
At a rate of $65,116 per alien, New York City Mayor Eric Adams estimates his city will need to spend $2.8 billion in the next fiscal year to deal with the rapid influx.
In 2023, New Jersey will spend $15 million just to provide health care benefits to illegal alien children.
As of September 2022, Operation Lone Star—a statewide effort by Texas to decrease illegal crossings and crack down on human and drug trafficking—had cost Texas over $4 billion. That averages about $2.5 million per week.
As of July 2022, Colorado was on track to spend $12 million per year in state and local government benefits, professional licenses, and business permits for illegal aliens.
In March 2022, Oregon passed legislation establishing the Universal Representation Fund, providing $15 million in “free” legal services and representation for illegal aliens, primarily those facing deportation.
Even beyond the economic costs, there are sobering human costs associated with heightened crime levels.
After being on the decline for years, because of President Joe Biden’s open-border policies, crimes committed by illegal aliens have skyrocketed over the past two years in virtually every category, including homicide and manslaughter, robbery and theft, sexual offenses, and weapons and drug trafficking.
It is impossible to put a price tag on the devastation to families and communities that crimes perpetrated by illegal aliens bring. In 2022 alone, U.S. Customs and Border Protection arrested 1,142 illegal aliens who were convicted of assault, battery, or domestic violence; 1,614 who were convicted of driving under the influence; and 2,239 who were convicted of drug possession and trafficking. Additionally, CBP arrested 62 illegal aliens convicted of homicide or manslaughter and 365 convicted of sexual offenses.
In total in 2022, CBP arrested 12,028 illegal aliens who had been convicted for various crimes.
The open border also has allowed Mexican drug cartels and many on the terrorist watchlist to cross into the country unimpeded.
Not only does the Biden administration refuse to change course, but it constantly finds more ways to deceive the public and escape responsibility as it knowingly, purposely perpetuates the crisis and allows a record high number of illegal entries every month.
From Day One in office, Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas have all but eliminated border and interior immigration enforcement, doing away with 89 previously successful border policies within their first year in office and dropping the number of illegal aliens detained from 11,000 to 3,000 per month—the lowest number since 1999 (even as we see the highest numbers of aliens illegally entering the country ever recorded).
Instead, they have continually shifted resources to processing more and more illegal aliens to get them into the country. In this fiscal year’s budget, the administration added 300 Border Patrol agents at a cost of $65 million, with their assigned functions now often centering around processing and caring for illegal immigrants at the border rather than arresting and deporting them. They also added 300 Border Patrol processing coordinators at a cost of $23 million and a new Joint Processing Center on the border at a cost of $140 million.
As Mayorkas claims that they have “operational control” of the border and Vice President Kamala Harris says the “border is secure,” we have seen over 6 million known illegal crossing encounters and “gotaways” under the two years of this administration’s watch. While lying to the public, they turn around and pull stunts like a new parole shell game in an effort to hide the true number of illegal immigrants coming into the country.
In the end, when the federal government fails to secure our borders and jeopardizes our national security, the responsibility falls on states to protect themselves.
There is one piece of good news—by tightening state laws requiring proof of citizenship or proof of lawful status for things like receiving public benefits and employment, enabling law enforcement to more effectively protect communities, and more—states can legally and effectively disincentivize illegal immigration within their own borders to spare their citizens the human and economic toll that such immigration brings.
Rather than leaving states to fend entirely for themselves and drown in a crisis this president created, the Biden administration must also step up and take on its responsibility to safeguard our nation’s borders and the American people. We don’t have a country if we don’t have a border. And no nation can afford an open border and a welfare state.
As we continually watch the costs of illegal immigration for states, communities, and the American taxpayers rise, Congress and the American people must hold the Biden administration to account; defund its radical, open-border operations; and restore known, successful policies to secure our border and our country.
Erin Dwinell is a senior research associate with The Heritage Foundation’s Border Security and Immigration Center. Reproduced with permission. Original here.