How Much Do Immigrants Actually Cost Taxpayers?

By September 5, 2017Blog

By Anthony Michael

Project Manager

Today, President Trump officially ended the DACA program – an Obama era policy which allowed undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to gain protection from deportation and receive renewable work permits.

The President is certainly acting within his authority to discontinue DACA – however, we wanted to take this time to dispel a notion about immigrants that was perpetuated in President Trump’s official statement.

In the statement, President Trump mentioned the “immense strain” that undocumented immigrants place on U.S. taxpayers. Numerous studies, performed by reputable, non-partisan organizations (including some in the public sector) illustrate that legal immigrants, refugees, and undocumented immigrants actually contribute more in taxes than they receive in public services and assistance.

This study from the National Bureau of Economics found that over their first 20 years in the United States, adult refugees contribute on average $21,300 more in taxes than they receive in benefits.

Then there is this report from the National Academy of Sciences which measures the fiscal burden of legal immigrants. The authors conclude that while first-generation immigrants are costly to governments, their children tend to be the “strongest economic and fiscal contributors in the U.S. population, contributing more in taxes than either their parents or the rest of the native-born population”. 

And finally, there’s this study by the Texas Comptroller. Texas is home to the second largest undocumented immigrant population in the U.S. – so certainly they should have one of the “heaviest” burdens of any state. The Comptroller found that undocumented immigrants cost Texas $1,156 billion for public services provided in 2005. Concurrently, undocumented immigrants generated $1,581 billion in tax revenues for the state – meaning Texas netted an additional $420 million in tax revenue from undocumented immigrants. 

Just like any other citizen, immigrants are provided public services when they arrive in the U.S. While these services are certainly costly, it is important to remember that immigrants of all types provide our government a positive net return on their investment. 

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