Despite an $8 billion budget deficit, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is refusing to address the impact illegal immigration has on the state’s budget. California Republicans have introduced two dozen bills that would reduce the negative impact illegal immigrants have on the budget. Assemblyman Ted Gaines (R) explains: “There’s a cost associated with illegal immigration whether we’re in a deficit mode or not. I think it just becomes more (significant) when we’re in a deficit mode and we’re having to make tough cuts across the board in education and health and human services.”
Sen. Guk Cedillo (D) disagrees: “The fact of the matter is, immigrants have a positive impact on the economy and the budget, and they’re essential to California’s prosperity. We can’t have a prosperous future without immigrant workers.” Cedillo is half right. Immigrants can have a positive impact on the economy. Highly skilled immigrants are key to Silicon Valley’s economic dynamism. Problem is some 50 to 60 percent of illegal immigrants lack a high school degree. And low-skill immigrant households (defined as households headed by immigrants without a high school diploma) are a huge drain on state budgets.
According to a Heritage Foundation study, at the state and local level, the average low skill immigrant household received $14,145 in benefits and services and paid only $5,309 in taxes. The average low skill immigrant households imposed a net fiscal burden on state and local government of $8,836 per year.
Besides means-tested benefits and education services, lawmakers often forget how large numbers of illegal immigrants affect population based expenditures like police and fire protection, courts, parks, sanitation, and food safety and health inspections. Transportation costs, especially on roads and highways, also go up to accommodate increased illegal immigration. State and local governments spent $481 billion in population based expenditures alone.
It may be politically unpopular to point out the very real costs of illegal immigration, but when a state is facing a $8 billion deficit it is time for truth and political correctness.