The Cost of Deportation
Do Taxpayers Pay a Lot for Helping Temporary
and Unauthorized Immigrants?
Some taxpayers think that a considerable portion of their tax dollars goes to support temporary and deferred status and unauthorized immigrants, many of whom have lived in the U.S. including Minnesota for a decade or two. So let's take a look at what it really costs taxpayers to help unauthorized immigrants.
How about these immigrants, the mainly Mexican Latinos, the Liberians, and the Childhood Arrivals? Are they causing us a lot of trouble, committing a lot of crimes, needing a lot of our tax dollars to help them get by? Not really. The Center for American Progress Immigration Team and Michael D. Nicholson point out that undocumented immigrants add trillions of dollars to the U.S. gross domestic product, or GDP, and their economic importance has increased as America’s largest generation, the baby boomers, retires en masse, creating a big demand for labor.1 As of 2014, Minnesota's residents born abroad were 8% of its population versus 13% for the nation as a whole. However, Minnesota's immigrant population grew much faster than the nation from 2010 to 2014, 15.8% versus 5.8% for the nation as a whole.2
The undocumented workers are paying into Social Security and Medicare, but that's other people's Social Security and Medicare they are paying for. They are not eligible to receive these benefits. In 2014, unauthorized immigrants in MN, who comprise 2% of the population, paid over $30 million to Medicare and $116 million to Social Security. They earned $1.6 billion in income from which they paid an estimated $117.3 million in federal taxes and $72.9 million in state and local taxes.2
Sometimes their children born in the U.S. receive nutrition benefits and Medicaid, but even so these benefits are probably a lot less than what they pay for other people's Social Security and Medicare benefits. "The Facts on Immigration Today: 2017 Edition" reveals that fewer than 1 in 5 immigrants live in poverty, and immigrant-headed households with incomes less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line rely on fewer public benefits and social services, 9.3%, than comparable U.S.-born households, 15%. Unauthorized immigrants qualify for very few public benefits and social services.1
1. CAP Immigration Team and Michael D. Nicholson. "The Facts on Immigration Today: 2017 Edition. CAP Immigration Team & Michael D. Nicholson, April 20, 2017. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/reports/2017/04/20/430736/facts-immigration-today-2017-edition/
2. “The Contributions of New Americans in Minnesota.” New American Economy, 2016, p. 27
In a video produced by Roy Germano,1 Professor in the International Relations Department at New York University, an unauthorized father from Guatemala, who owned a house framing business, was deported. Instead of contributing federal and state income taxes and property taxes, many families with a deported parent need help with housing costs, food, education, and social and health care services. Consequently, the deportation of unauthorized immigrant parents results in substantial costs that need to be covered by taxpayers.
For example these costs totaled over $100,000 for lost taxes and needed services for the family of 6 whose father and breadwinner was deported for a period of about 2 1/2 years1 after which he was permitted to return. This amounts to an annual cost of $40,000 for a family of six for an average cost of $6667 per year for each family member. Many children require foster care which costs considerably more than financial help and services to a family.
1. VICE News. "Immigrant America: The High Cost of Deporting Parents." March 29, 2014.
MN Estimated Cost for Helping Families whose Breadwinner Is Deported
For many families, the period of separation would be much longer or permanent than for the family in the video. In Minnesota 138,664 people live in a family with at least one unauthorized family member. The Pew Research Center estimates that there are 95,000 unauthorized immigrants living in MN.1 If 62% of them work as is true for the nation as a whole, that would mean 59,000 missing breadwinners in MN if all of the undocumented breadwinners were deported leaving 79,664 family members, 61,574 of them children.
The costs for half of Minnesota's potential unauthorized family members of a deported parent is calculated. We expect that elected officials will come to their senses and stop deportations when they become aware of their high cost to taxpayers. The current administration has set a goal of deporting half of the immigrants who are living in the U.S. on unauthorized or temporary status. Half of the unauthorized breadwinners in MN would be 29,500. They would leave behind 39,832 family members, 30,787 of them children.
1) Low Income Families Whose Parent has been Deported
These are the families that on average lose 73% of their income when a parent, most frequently the father, is deported. We assume that five-sixths of the children (25,656) and the adults (9,095) who have the misfortune of a parent or spouse's deportation will find themselves in this situation (34,750).
We are using the per person average of $6667 per year of the family of 6 left without the father in Utah. The Washington Post concluded in 2014 that $28,800 would be average cost for social welfare programs for a family consisting of a single parent and two children.2 That would be $9,600 per person. Indeed, as the single parent, usually a mother, goes through a 2 year or 4 year degree program to prepare for her new career, the per person cost for benefit programs is likely to be closer to $9,600 or even considerably more. However, as she completes her studies and starts her new career, the cost of programs still needed could drop to considerably lower than $6667. The following graph from the Washington Post article shows the decline in the amount required from programs as income increases.2
For our calculations, click on "Read More."
The Cost of Early Childhood Education for Children
Who Experience Separation from a Parent
It is especially important that any children younger than 4 years who are exposed to the trauma of separation from their parents should be enrolled in high quality early childhood education. A video with pediatrician Dr. Pamela Chawley and clinical psychologist Mike Troy, Ph.D., both at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, explains the importance of a child's early years on which all future years depend. Troy notes in the film that 700 neural connections are made every second in early childhood. The billions of brain cells connect as the young child develops motor skills, emotion, behavioral control, logic, language, and memory to form a foundation for all learning that comes later. All of the three main aspects of brain development begin in the last trimester before the child is born with sensory development peaking in early childhood, language development in elementary school, and cognitive development in adulthood.1
Dr. Troy noted that early childhood education is expensive, but it is a lot less costly than care needed in later childhood and adulthood if the child doesn't get a good start.1
In his research, Art Rolnick, former Senior Vice President at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, found that taxpayers can earn up to a $16 return by the time a child reaches adulthood for every $1 they spend2 on helping low-income children access quality early childhood education programs that prepare them for kindergarten. The reason: Children who are prepared for kindergarten are absent from school less frequently and much less likely to drop out of school, are less likely to need expensive taxpayer-funded services like special education, social services, and mental health services, are less likely to become involved in the criminal justice system, and are much more likely to graduate from high school, earn college degrees, get good jobs and pay taxes as adults.
Duane Benson and Todd Otis call for investing more in scholarships, starting with children who are homeless, abused or in foster care. If our city, our county, and our state follows the Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation scheme, there will be many more children living in poverty or in foster care. High quality early childhood education cannot take the place of missing parents, but it can contribute to giving them a better start in life.
MN already provides kindergarten education for all children who are 5 years old. Two thirds of 0 to 5 years olds are 0-4 years so they are included as those for whom early childhood education needs to be provided.
Cost of Early Childhood Education in Minnesota
30,787 Children X .43 (0-5 year olds) =
13,238 X .67 (0-4 year olds) = 8,870
8870 X $12,000 annual cost of early childhood education = $106,440,000
Cost of Early Childhood Education in Brooklyn Park
8870 X $12,000 annual cost X .0375 = $3,991,500
1. Chawla, Pamela Gigi, MD and Troy, Mike, Ph.D. "The Early Years - Setting the Pathway for a Lifetime of Opportunity." Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. A Brown Bag Video. September 9, 2014.
2. Benson, Duane and Otis, Todd. It’s time to get serious about finishing the job on early education. Twin Cities Pioneer Press, March 30, 2017.
Additional K-12 Costs for Social and Mental Health Services
Have Not Been Estimated - Yet!
Photo: AP Alan Diaz
For the nearly 6 million U.S.-citizen children living with at least one unauthorized family member, life in Trump’s America is frightening.1 Since the election, adults across the country have reported spikes in fear and distress among young children from immigrant families.2 Now more than ever, citizen children are worried that they could be separated from their parents or forced to leave their communities.3
Trump’s harsh immigration policies create toxic stress for young children by breaking families apart, instilling fear in the immigrant community, and preventing families from accessing programs that meet children’s most basic needs. Policies that cause children emotional distress and economic insecurity in early childhood interfere with their healthy development and derail their future success. Instead of becoming the backbone of becoming the nation's workforce and making contributions to the economy, many will become adults that need mental health and supportive services.4 Additional staff, including social workers, mental health specialists, and special education teachers will be needed to help students attain their full potential.
1. Mathema, Silva. “Keeping Families Together” (Washington: Center for American Progress, 2017), available at https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/reports/2017/03/16/428335/keeping-families-together/
2. Kamenetz, Anna. “I Have Children Crying In the Classroom,” nprEd, March 9, 2017, available at http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/03/09/518996780/i-have-children-crying-in-the-classroom; Roque Planas and Jessica Carro, “This Is What Trump’s Immigration Crackdown Is Doing To School Kids,” The Huffington Post, March 1, 2017, available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/elementary-school-kids-terrified-by-immigration-arrests_us_58a76321e4b07602ad548e14; Andrew Gumbel, “Doctors see a new condition among immigrant children: fear of Trump,” The Guardian, November 25, 2016, available at https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/25/donald-trump-immigration-deportation-children-doctors
3. Capps, Randy; Castaneda, Rosa Maria; Chaudry, Ajay; and Santos, Robert. "Paying the Price: The Impact of Immigration Raids on America's Children." A Report by the Urban Institute for the National Council of LaRaza, 2007.
4. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration (2016).