Friday, September 10, 2010

Illegal immigration: What's the real cost to taxpayers?

by Edward Schumacher-Matos

Washington Post
September 9, 2010

In 1909, at the height of the last great immigration wave, when immigrants reached a peak of almost 15 percent of the U.S. population, they made up about half of all public welfare recipients.

They were two-thirds of welfare recipients in Chicago.

In the country's 30 largest cities, meanwhile, more than half of all public school students were the children of immigrants. They were three-fourths in New York.

This history is forgotten in the angry debate over the cost to taxpayers of unauthorized immigrants and their children today. My recent column reporting that unauthorized immigrants were making unexpectedly large contributions to Social Security, for example, led to denunciations that I was being misleading by not looking at the total fiscal picture.