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A newly released study shows illegal aliens cost the federal government over $10 billion a year in services.

The research, conducted by the Center for Immigration Studies, used Census Bureau data from 2002 to find the fiscal impact of illegal aliens. The $10 billion figure was determined by subtracting taxes paid by illegals from the value of services they enjoy.

CIS noted the study did not include the impact of illegals on state and local governments.

The think tank estimates that if illegal aliens were extended amnesty, as President Bush has proposed, the impact to the federal budget would grow to nearly $29 billion.

The study found each illegal-alien household used $2,700 a year more in services than paid in taxes in 2002. Expenditures included Medicaid ($2.5 billion); treatment for the uninsured ($2.2 billion); food assistance programs ($1.9 billion); the federal prison and court systems ($1.6 billion); and federal aid to schools ($1.4 billion), CIS reported.

Though some argue legalizing illegal aliens would be good for the nation, the study finds the $2,700 per-family deficit would grow to $7,700 if amnesty occurred, bringing the total imbalance to nearly $29 billion.

Related findings from the CIS study include:

  • With nearly two-third of illegals lacking a high school diploma, the primary reason they create a fiscal deficit is their low education levels and resulting low incomes and tax payments – not their legal status or their unwillingness to work.

  • Amnesty increases costs because illegals would still be largely unskilled, and thus their tax payments would continue to be very modest, but once legalized they would be able to access many more government services.

  • The fact that legal immigrants with little schooling are a fiscal drain on federal coffers does not mean that legal immigrants overall are a drain. Many legal immigrants are highly skilled, the study found.

  • Because many of the costs are due to their U.S.-born children, who are awarded U.S. citizenship at birth, barring illegals themselves from federal programs will not significantly reduce costs.

The research also found that while they create a net drain on the federal government, the average illegal household pays more than $4,200 a year in federal taxes, for a total of nearly $16 billion.



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