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Undocumented migrants costing U.S. taxpayers $151 billion a year, study finds

According to the study, undocumented immigration costs an average American taxpayer around $1,516 a year

Migrants | Shutterstock

March 10, 2023 6:45am

Updated: March 10, 2023 6:45am

The recent surge of undocumented migrants entering the United States is costing American taxpayers around $151 billion a year, according to a new study by an immigration group that was released this week. 

The study, "The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers 2023," by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) found that undocumented migrants receive around $182 billion a year in services and benefits at the federal and state level. 

However, the costs are offset by around $31 billion coming from the taxes collected from the estimated 15.5 million undocumented migrants living in the U.S.

The end cost of $151 billion a year signals a 30% increase in money spent on migrants over the last five years, according to the study. In 2017, undocumented migrants cost taxpayers an average of $116 billion a year. 

According to the study, undocumented immigration costs an average American taxpayer around $1,516 a year. Meanwhile, the U.S.-born child of an undocumented migrant costs each taxpayer around $8,776 per year. 

Undocumented migrants are not eligible for many federal welfare programs. However, many migrants are enrolled in education programs, food assistance programs, and health care.  

According to FAIR, K-12 education constitutes the largest cost, with a total of $78 billion a year. Healthcare for undocumented migrants is estimated to cost taxpayers around $42.7 billion a year.

Food assistance programs, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) costs taxpayers around $13.5 billion a year.

"As America struggles to meet countless societal needs while facing the realities of our staggering $31 trillion national debt, the costs of providing for millions of people who have no legal right to be in the United States continues to grow at an alarming rate," FAIR President Dan Stein said in a statement.

The report comes as a record-breaking number of undocumented migrants were intercepted by Border Patrol agents at U.S. borders. In Fiscal Year 2021, authorities encountered more than 1.7 million migrants, and more than 2.3 million in Fiscal Year 2022. The trend of migrant encounters so far in 2023 seems to indicate that Fiscal Year 2023 will surpass previous years.