High Costs of Low-skill Immigrants
Created on May 22, 2007
CThe High Cost of Low-Skill
The American taxpayer foots the bill for tens of billions of
dollars in services and other benefits given to households of
low-skill immigrants, many of whom are here illegally.
On average, each of these 4.5 million households receives nearly
three dollars in taxpayer-funded services for every dollar it pays
in taxes, according to a special report from The Heritage
The Heritage report, published as the Senate takes up legislation
to put illegal aliens on a fast track to citizenship, calculates
that households of low-skill immigrants paid an average $10,573 in
taxes in fiscal 2004.
But these low-skill immigrants received almost three times as much
-- $30,160 per household -- in government benefits and services.
That's a "fiscal deficit" of $19,587.
That's also about $10,000 more in services and benefits -- mostly
welfare payments -- than the average U.S. household got.
"Over the next 10 years," analysts Robert Rector and Christine Kim
write, "the net cost (benefits minus taxes) to the taxpayer of
low-skill immigrant households will approach $1 trillion."
At least half of adult illegal aliens don't have a high school
diploma, according to Pew Hispanic Center, compared with 25 percent
of legal immigrants. By contrast, 9 percent of nonimmigrant adults
lack a high school diploma.
Americans tend to be "net taxpayers" during our working years --
that is, the amount we pay in taxes exceeds the cost of services we
consume. In retirement, we become "net tax takers" -- benefits
received exceed taxes paid.
But it's a different case for households of low-skill immigrants.
No matter the age of the head of household, benefits received far
exceed taxes paid by low-skill immigrants, defined as those without
high school diplomas. The total gap in fiscal '04 alone: $89.1
"Assuming an average adult life span of 60 years for each head of
household," Rector and Kim write, "the average lifetime costs to
the taxpayer will be nearly $1.2 million for each low-skill
The complete report is available here.