Paying for Illegal Immigration

A big part of the problem with illegal immigration in America is that while immigration policy and enforcement is purely a jealously guarded function of the federal government, the costs associated with illegal immigration are paid overwhelmingly by state and local governments. I think we could make a lot of headway with illegal immigration if we required the federal government to reimburse state and local governments for all costs associated with dealing with illegal aliens.

At present the federal government requires that states provide the same level of services to illegal aliens that they give to citizens. They must provide medical care, education, social services and criminal justice. This arrangement provides no incentive for federal politicians to try to reduce the burden on localities caused by illegal immigration. They can strike a moral pose about the sanctity of immigration to America while letting the politicians lower down on the food chain deal with the negative consequences.

Letting the states bill the feds for the costs associated with illegals would hit the politicians in the wallet. If they had to choose between paying for their pet projects and paying for illegal immigration, they might view the problem with the same urgency as do those who pay for it now. Politicians who represent areas without substantial illegal immigration might suddenly discover that the entire country might have a problem.

There is little argument that low-skilled illegal immigrants are at first net consumers of tax dollars. Only over the course of decades, as they follow the American dream up through the tax brackets, do they become net producers of tax revenues. Areas that must absorb large numbers of new illegals must often raise taxes or cut services to everyone to compensate.

It is profoundly unfair that a minority of localities must pay for failed federal policy. Immigration is a federal issue. The feds should pay for it.

6 thoughts on “Paying for Illegal Immigration”

  1. Cool idea, but if it were possible to force the federal government to pay these costs, wouldn’t it also be possible to just cut to the chase, and force the federal government to secure the borders?

    The problem is that the states, as a result of the 17th amendment, are utterly lacking in any leverage over the federal government. They can’t force it to do ANYTHING.

    The feds hold all the cards save one: The power to call for a constitutional convention. And I wonder if the states did call for one, whether the federal government would comply?

    If the states called for a constitutional convention, and Congress decided that the delegates would be… the states’ congressional delegations, does anybody want to bet the courts wouldn’t call the issue non-judiciable?

  2. What about lawsuits? Has this issue ever been explored in the courts?

    I was wondering if it was possible to file a class action lawsuit against the government consisting of the victims of crime, fraud, etc perpetrated by illegal aliens. If the government had to pay every victim money, they might eventually decide to stop illegal immigration. Perhaps hospitals and state governments should start suing construction companies and other businesses for the hospital bills incurred by illegal immigrants hurt on the job?

    What would happen if the state of California refused to send any of its tax dollars to the federal government? Could they do that? How?

  3. A suggestion was made on a blog, maybe here, that we should deduct the cost from our humanitarian aid to said countries.

    Especially since Mexico’s wells seem to be running dry at this point in time.

  4. The US should raise taxes on those industries that use illegal immigrants. Since farming, construction and other low-wage, low-skill sectors lure illegals in to undercut the minimum wage and other laws protecting workers, they should pay for it.

  5. It would be a good deal for California, but the CA State Legislature is also complicit in drowning the State in red-ink by promoting and extending all the handouts and benefits to illegal aliens.

  6. If you were a poorly educated, slow-witted common laborer struggling to pay the rent and feed a couple of kids, who has no health insurance, and is forced to drive an uninsured rattle-trap of a car to work because it is all you can afford, then I bet you wouldn’t be so quick to say that is “the states” who bear most of the costs of illegal immigration. You would say you were. And you would have a point.

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