A New “FAIR” Report on the Cost of Illegal Immigration

Illegal Immigration A new report has been unleashed onto the American public regarding how much taxpayers pay to deal with illegal immigrants. The report, conducted and published by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) puts the total number at around $113 billion per year. FAIR broke it down further, claiming that the vast majority of this cost is absorbed by state and local governments who have to foot 74 percent of that bill, about $84 billion. FAIR offsets their findings by subtracting from that total the estimated amount of taxes collected from illegal immigrants and the businesses that hire them, which at the federal level, offsets about a third of the cost and at the local level, taxing illegal immigrants apparently offsets approximately only 5 percent of their cost. However, according to FAIR, those rare illegal immigrants who do pay taxes generally qualify for earned income credits and thus receive their taxed income back, and sometimes more. FAIR estimated that per household, the cost of illegal immigrants runs $1117 per year and that those communities who harbor more illegal immigrants pay more due to the cost of educating illegal immigrant children—the greatest cost to taxpayers at $52 billion or 42 percent of the total cost.

These are disturbing findings indeed. And these statistics are being used to fuel conservative politicians, pundits, and opinion writers’ arguments who see it as ammunition to further alarm the public and sway them to the cause of supporting more restrictive immigration legislation or fund more illegal immigration enforcement. This, of course, would only cost taxpayers more. However, without crunching the numbers themselves, there is good reason to suspect the findings of FAIR based solely on the fact that FAIR is perhaps one of the most skewed, politically biased, and nativist organizations in America who, many would agree, might unsurprisingly fudge numbers to further their agenda. FAIR has made it onto the short list of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s compilation of hate groups and has knowingly associated with some very racist institutions. One of FAIR’s largest financial contributors in the 1970’s and 1980’s was the Pioneer Fund, which also funded controversial socio-racial research attempting to find a link between race and IQ. More recently, in 2010, FAIR financed a billboard campaign in Virginia that blamed immigrants for traffic congestion and urban sprawl. In 1997, FAIR founder John H. Tanton, publically said in an interview that America is in danger of becoming overrun with immigrants who will be “defecating, creating garbage, and looking for jobs.” In 1986, Tanton asked the press: “As whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?”

Such a reputation calls into the question of the accuracy of FAIR’s statistics. Clearly, they are not objective observers of American phenomenon. Knowing this can be a lesson to the student of politics, society, and culture. Question the sources of your information. Do not take at face value the thousands of statistics that are thrown at you. The age of the internet is called the age of information; it could conversely be called the age of misinformation. We live in the real world, with real problems that need real solutions. And solutions that are fair for the most possible people, including immigrants and those of all races and nationalities.