“Undocumented immigrants pay more in US taxes than Amazon or Facebook do” she wrote. She then linked to an article claiming that illegal aliens paid over $23,6 billion in taxes in 2015, which was calculated based off of tax returns submitted without social security numbers. Obviously, many illegals still simply work under the table and pay nothing except local sales taxes, so “taxpaying illegals” only represent a portion of all illegals.
Don’t believe me? In 2015 undocumented immigrants paid $20 billion in income taxes – including funding Medicare, Medicaid, & Social Security: https://t.co/NaWyFiVZVs
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 8, 2020
The myth that illegal aliens in any way “pay for themselves” because they pay taxes is a myth that I had debunked years ago when AOC was still employed as a bartender. The study I was refuting at the time estimated that illegal aliens pay $10 billion a year in taxes – which is half of AOC’s estimate – but also completely irrelevant in the context of a federal government that spent $12.2 billion per day in 2019.
Assuming AOC’s estimate is correct, $23.6 billion in taxes across roughly fifteen million illegal aliens comes out to $1,573 per illegal. To put that in perspective, the average American living in the lowest taxed state (Florida) still pays more than double as much in tax ($3,448) just to their state.
What would America look like if every worker paid as much in taxes as illegal aliens? In 2019 our labor force of 164.5 million would’ve paid $259 billion in tax revenue to the federal government – as opposed to the $3.4 trillion we actually paid. Even doubling or tripling the estimates wouldn’t make much of a dent.
Or looked at through another lens – illegal aliens don’t even pay enough in taxes to make up for losses in tax revenue they cause by displacing American workers. All jobs worked by illegals would otherwise be filled by Americans, 100% of which would be paying taxes, and likely at higher wages. One recent study found illegals impose a $30 billion annual cost in lost tax revenue, three times what they pay. In other words, illegals create a net $18 billion hole in paying their $10 billion in taxes.
And that’s just the indirect cost of illegal immigration. Compared against what they cost taxpayers, illegals are hardly net-taxpayers.
Education is the biggest cost. According to the Pew Research Center, from 1995 to 2012, the percentage of K-12 students with at least one undocumented immigrant parent rose from 3.2 to 6.9%. And according to a handful of studies, the cost to taxpayers to educate the children of illegals comes out to:
- $44.5 billion annually – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, reported in 2010.
- $59 billion annually – Federal for American Immigration Reform, reported in 2016.
Both estimates were calculated by simply multiplying the number of students with illegal immigrant parents by the average cost of educating a child K-12. Clearly, the cost trend is rising.
Just as these legal children of illegal immigrants are entitled to a taxpayer-funded education, they’re also entitled to a whole host of welfare benefits, given that illegal immigrant families tend to earn incomes low enough to qualify for federal aid. While they don’t qualify for the aid themselves – their legal children do.
Unfortunately, the last time the Government Accountability Office (GAO) studied the cost of benefits to the children of illegals was in 1997, and only provided estimates for food stamps, so it’s hardly comprehensive. Since a lack of comparable unbiased literature exists, it is worth noting however that they found the cost of food stamps to illegal children at $1.75 billion (in 2018 inflation adjusted dollars) per year, and obviously that’s an understatement as illegal immigration has increased since ’97. There was not enough data for the GAO to provide total cost estimates for housing assistance, but estimated an illegal household with a child would be eligible for $612 a month in benefits, compared to an average $112 food stamp benefit per child (both figures adjusted for 2018 dollars). In other words, the dollar figure for the cost of housing assistance likely significantly eclipses that of food stamps.
The emergency room loophole guarantees that illegal immigrants will benefit from free healthcare at the taxpayer’s time. Despite federal regulations preventing taxpayer funding of Medicaid to illegals, Forbes healthcare analyst Chris Conover estimates that roughly 3.9 million illegal (uninsured) immigrants receive healthcare each year, costing $12 billion a year in free care. Adding in the implicit federal subsidies that nonprofit hospitals receive, among other indirect costs brings the healthcare cost total to $18.5 billion a year to taxpayers. None of this includes the cost of the legal children of illegals, who likely qualify for Medicaid.
So that’s over $100 billion in direct costs for U.S. taxpayers created by illegal aliens.
But according to AOC, that’s A-OK because we might be getting pennies on the dollar back.
How did she get an economics degree again?