Saturday, December 09, 2006

Strayhorn: Undocumented immigrants leave state holding a mixed bag

The downloadable report is available here (pdf).

Strayhorn: Undocumented immigrants leave state holding a mixed bag
Carole Keeton Strayhorn, TEXAS COMPTROLLER

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Immigration was a heated topic of debate leading up to the November elections and will continue to fuel discussion and action in 2007. This month, I released a special report, "Undocumented Immigrants in Texas: A Financial Analysis of the Impact to the State Budget and Economy," which clearly shows the state receives an economic benefit from the growing number of undocumented immigrants in Texas, but it also sheds light on the challenges facing local governments providing services to undocumented immigrants.

The report (online at marks the the first time any state has done a comprehensive financial analysis of the effect of undocumented immigrants on its budget and economy, looking at gross state product, revenues generated, taxes paid and the cost of state services.

The absence of the estimated 1.4 million undocumented immigrants in Texas in fiscal 2005 would have been a loss to our gross state product of $17.7 billion. Undocumented immigrants produced $1.58 billion in state revenues, which exceeded the $1.16 billion in state services they received. However, local governments bore the burden of $1.44 billion in uncompensated health care and law enforcement costs not paid for by the state.

The report estimates that undocumented immigrants in Texas generate more in state taxes and fees than the costs incurred by the state in providing education, health care and emergency medical services, and incarceration.

Texas is more likely than other states to capture tax revenues from undocumented immigrants because it has no income tax and relies heavily on consumption taxes.

Services for undocumented migrants include K-12 education, emergency medical care, health care for children with special needs, mental health aid, substance abuse aid, immunizations and public health.

Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, food stamps, welfare, Supplemental Security Income, public housing, job opportunities for low-income individuals and child care and development.

The report estimated the state spent $957 million on K-12 education for undocumented students during the 2004-2005 school year. States may not deny access to public education to immigrant children residing within their boundaries, regardless of legal status.

I estimated the state spent $11.2 million for higher education for undocumented students who are classified as Texas residents and thus paid in-state tuition during the 2004-2005 school year. Most of these students attended community colleges.

In fiscal 2005, I estimated the state spent $58 million for health care services for undocumented immigrants. Most of the state's costs ($38.7 million) were for emergency Medicaid services, most of which is tied to childbirth.

I estimated the state spent $130.6 million on incarceration for undocumented immigrants in fiscal 2006.

Local governments and hospitals feel the effect from undocumented immigrants. In 2004, undocumented immigrants cost hospitals an estimated $1.3 billion in uncompensated care, while in 2005 local governments spent $141.9 million to cover costs associated with incarceration.

The report estimated undocumented immigrants paid $513 million in fiscal 2005 in local taxes, including city, county and special district sales and property taxes.

Revenues from undocumented immigrants exceed what the state spent on services by more than $420 million. Though state revenues exceed expenditures for those immigrants, local governments and hospitals experience the opposite, with the estimated difference being more than $920 million for 2005.

Find this article at:

No comments:

Post a Comment