Americans pay dearly to host this nation within a nation of illegal immigrants that soaks up our taxpayer-funded services
[This column was first published by the Houston Chronicle on May 7, 2006, and in other newspapers across the country as well as being picked up by Rush Limbaugh who read it on his national radio show.]
By Mark Cromer
It is said that in war, truth is the first casualty.
Perhaps that is why the hard facts of what is happening in America today as a result of unrelenting mass waves of illegal immigration are being killed in nightly news cycles and buried amid the glib eulogies from pundits who smirk at Americans who don’t have nannies and who mow their own lawns.
For the past several weeks, Americans have witnessed a frenzied campaign waged by proponents of a ‘guest-worker’ amnesty plan that has downplayed, minimized and papered-over the staggering impacts of illegal immigration on working and middleclass neighborhoods.
Not the least of these impacts are the massive budgetary costs carried by American taxpayers, who watch as the social services system designed for citizens is swamped by nationals overwhelmingly from Mexico.
Fearing that Americans have finally reached the breaking point, the multi-headed hydra of Wall Street Republicans, No-Border Democrats and militant Mexican nationalists have unleashed a blizzard of specious figures in support of their dubious claim that illegal immigrants contribute more to America than they cost it.
They start by cutting in half the actual number of illegal immigrants in the nation, which serious studies by firms like Bear Stearns now place at more than 20 million men, women and children. School enrollments, medical treatment, remittances to home countries and border crossings all point to a vast-yet-insular population whose true size advocates are loath to acknowledge.
Advocates furiously downplay the cost of this nation-within-a-nation. They peddle instead sugary platitudes that hold illegal immigrants are simply hardworking people who “pay taxes” and fuel the American economy.
The facts, plainly visible to working Americans, tell a different story:
The estimated 1.1 million illegal immigrants currently in the nation’s public school system cost taxpayers’ $9.6 billion every year in an attempt to educate them (despite the illegal immigrant community’s epidemic-scale dropout rates). The 2.2 million children of illegal immigrants in America, often referred to as ‘anchor babies’ to ensure the parents can stay, add another $20 billion to that tab.
In California, the 2004-05 state budget spent $9,811 per pupil in the classroom. An estimated 425,000 illegal immigrants in the state’s classrooms during that period cost taxpayers’ more than $4 billion—a figure that does not include the ‘anchor baby’ population in the classroom.
More than 40,000 illegal immigrants jammed California’s prison system in 2004, costing taxpayers an estimated $1.5 billion in tax funds not reimbursed by the federal government.
In one of the cruelest jokes played on the American taxpayers, illegal immigrants are allowed to claim children living back in Mexico and qualify for the earned-income tax credit that traditionally has helped the American poor.
These numbers are just the tip of a fiscal iceberg that government officials have slammed the American ship of state into—and now they are striking up the band and rearranging the deck chairs.
Americans hear the mantra everyday that without illegal immigrants working in jobs that citizens “are too lazy to do,” everything from a clean hotel room to a head of lettuce would skyrocket in price.
A day without a Mexican—the refrain now goes—would literally lead to the collapse of the American economy. To the contrary, a year without the crushing weight of millions of illegal immigrants on communities and their budgets just may save the American working and middle class.
Yet there is precious little discussion of how a family of six Mexican nationals living in Pomona, California, who soak-up nearly $40,000 annually in taxpayer funds just to educate their four children, is contributing more back into the economy. Consider even if the primary wage-earner in this family grossed $35,000 annually, a fortune back in Mexico, most of that income is likely to be off-the-books and under-taxed.
But education is only one part of the social services system meant for at-risk and in-need Americans that illegal immigrants have drilled into: heath care costs and subsidized housing are two other areas where the crushing cost of illegal immigration is destroying the system.
Working and middleclass Americans know that illegal immigrants do not “live in the shadows,” as political mythology would have it, but more aptly they occupy a parallel universe: one that sees them compete for American jobs, access benefits for Americans and yet send their hard-earned money out of the country to Mexico, propping up a hopelessly corrupt government.
No matter how much sugar the supporters of illegal immigrants use to frost the issue, Americans know what a bitter pill they have been forced to swallow.
But if Congress passes an amnesty this time around, it may well be they who have taken the cyanide.