Texas Health Care: The High Cost of Cheap Labor

By Mark Krikorian on December 12, 2008

No surprise here:

The state of Texas and local hospital districts spent an estimated $677 million to provide health care to illegal immigrants in a year, a new study says.

The survey, issued by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, said that most of the money — $597 million — was spent by local hospital districts for the immigrants' care during the state's fiscal year that ended on Aug. 31, 2007.

Lawmakers from both parties said they were not surprised by the millions spent and expressed hope that the report, required by the 2007 Legislature, will help prompt Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

But why would the report help do that? The syllogism seems to be that "Immigrant welfare use is bad" and "illegal immigration is bad" therefore "immigrant welfare use is caused by illegal immigration." In other words, if only Congress would give the illegals amnesty (a/k/a "comprehensive immigration reform") and import future foreign labor through legal channels, then Texas wouldn't have to pay two-thirds of a billion dollars a year for health care for the formerly illegal aliens.

The problem with this reasoning is that illegallity is not the reason for immigration's cost to taxpayers. A Mexican peasant with a sixth-grade education isn't going to do a whole lot better in the labor market just because we give him a green card. And what our modern society considers minimum-acceptable standards of living aren't going to change, so we're still going to subsidize such people. The bottom line is that importing 19th century labor into a 21st century society is always a losing proposition.