Cost of Joe Biden’s open borders: $200 billion, paid by you

By Mark Krikorian on February 10, 2023

New York Post, February 10, 2023

An internal City Hall memo says Biden’s open border will cost New York City taxpayers $4.2 billion through the middle of next year, double Mayor Adams’ previous estimate.

And those costs won’t stop even if Washington magically decides to start enforcing the immigration laws — because millions are already here.

One of the reasons the number is so high is New York’s “right to shelter” law, which requires the city to house all comers. But even without that provision, and even once the border-jumpers start working (legally or otherwise) and paying taxes, the net costs to taxpayers nationwide will be enormous.

A few years back, the Center for Immigration Studies used data from the National Academies of Sciences to estimate the lifetime net fiscal impact (taxes paid minus services used) for each illegal immigrant, not counting their U.S.-born children.

Adjusted for inflation, the lifetime cost to taxpayers of each illegal immigrant is over $80,000. Under Biden’s orders, Homeland Security has released into the United States nearly 2 million illegal border-crossers (so far!), meaning their lifetime cost to taxpayers will be close to $150 billion.

Add in another 1 million got-aways — border infiltrators who were detected (by cameras or ground sensors or other means) but not apprehended because the Border Patrol had its hands’ full dealing with all the illegal immigrants turning themselves in knowing they’d be released — and the lifetime cost for taxpayers soars past $200 billion.

You might object that many of these are asylum-seekers awaiting their hearings and, if they lose, they’ll return home. You might also be interested in a bridge I have to sell you.

How big is $200 billion? It’s equal to:

  • The entire gross domestic product of New Zealand, or Greece, or Peru.
  • The budget of New York, a city of 8.5 million, for two years.
  • Five years of funding for NYC’s schools.
  • Roughly 41% of what the nation spends on welfare overall in a year.
  • Enough to buy every NFL team and still have $60 billion left over.

Notwithstanding the contemptible behavior of some “asylum-seekers” in Manhattan hotels, these huge costs for taxpayers are not generally the result of moral shortcomings on the part of the illegal immigrants.

There’s a wide body of research showing that illegal immigrants tend to be significantly less educated than legal ones or the native-born, just as you’d expect. While there are always exceptions, most illegal immigrants have no more than a high school education in their home countries, if that.

Less-educated people, whether they’re immigrants or native born, on average make less money and thus pay little in taxes, while making greater use of taxpayer-funded government services.

So the drain on government coffers created by illegal immigrants isn’t because they’re lazy or came here to get welfare (though that obviously does happen). Nor is it because they all work off the books and don’t pay taxes; we estimate that half or more of illegal immigrants work on the books, with fake or stolen Social Security numbers.

Just the fact, ma’am

It’s just that in a modern economy, less education equals less income equals less tax revenue and more government services. The math is unavoidable, and it’s why cities and states worry so much about losing their middle- and upper-income tax base; it’s those middle- and upper-income residents who pay most of the taxes — categories that do not include the average illegal immigrant.

Not that the costs to Americans of mass illegal immigration matter to the activists making immigration policy in the Biden administration. They have a deep ideological aversion to enforcing immigration laws, and if the resulting tsunami of arrivals costs taxpayers billions, so be it — it’s the price of moral rectitude.

But if the Biden administration expects us to bear the costs generated by the arrival of millions of poor people from abroad, it at least has an obligation to tell us how much it will cost.