July 10, 2009

Illegal residents: burden or buoy?

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California’s nearly 3 million illegal residents add between $4 billion and $6 billion in incarceration, education and medical costs, according to state estimates. 

But they also pay local sales taxes — and often have Social Security and federal income taxes withheld from their paychecks.   Across the U.S., illegal residents pumped $12 billion into the Social Security system in 2007, according to that agency’s estimates.

That money goes to federal rather than local governments, whose short-term costs related to illegal immigrants may be larger than the revenues, according to most experts.

So what to do during a budget crisis? Bar hospital doors to illegal residents? Kick them out of schools?  Toughen up the border?  Maintain the status quo?

Anti-illegal immigration activists are campaigning for an initiative to cut off welfare payments to the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants, even though those children are eligible because they are U.S. citizens.  Doing so would save $640 million per year, according to the state.

To find out the options being considered in California, read the report by Anna Gorman and Teresa Watanabe of the Los Angeles Times.

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