Monday, January 17, 2011

How Much Do Illegal Immigrants Cost?

The answer: probably not very much, at least not much compared to actual big-ticket items like defense, Social Security, and Medicare:
Does welfare for immigrants cost us money? Yes, but I think the evidence suggests that these costs are pretty small relative to the benefits from larger markets (here’s one example of evidence). Even if there are no offsetting benefits, by focusing so much attention on it we are kind of like a grocery shopper with debt trouble who loads up his shopping cart with hundreds of dollars worth of extravagant, frivolous, and unhealthy items and then argues for hours with his family over whether they should save $1 a week by purchasing store brand rather than name brand soft drinks. If the body politic were an actual body in need of medical attention, waste from defense and entitlement spending would be compound fractures in both legs while waste from welfare spending for immigrants might be a scraped elbow.
So, it's not that the cost of illegal immigrants doesn't need to be addressed - it certainly does. But, there are much bigger sources of waste that could be addressed first and that would save far more money.

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