FAIR vs ITEP Estimates of the Costs of Illegal Immigration

How much is illegal immigration costing your school district? ImmigrationReform.comAn article on the Philippine-based Inquirer website on April 5, relied on data from the Instituted on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) and from FAIR to describe opposing conclusions regarding the impact of illegal aliens.

Although the article attempted to appear impartial, it clearly tilted toward the side of supporting illegal aliens by offering examples of illegal aliens who have regularly paid taxes and supposedly have not received any welfare benefits.

What the story misses is the fact that the ITEP estimates of taxes paid by illegal aliens are irrelevant because the same tax payments –  likely, much more – would be paid if the same jobs held by the illegal workers were instead held by legal workers. Illegal workers are much more likely than legal workers to be working for cash, thereby avoiding tax withholding. They also are much more likely to be spending less on taxable purchases because they are sending part of their income back to their home country in remittances.

The article also tilts in favor of defenders of illegal aliens in the comment; “FAIR’s focus on tax contributions compared to benefits received has also been assailed as the wrong basis for immigration policy. Based on that method, a huge chunk of native-born Americans can also be categorized as freeloaders for receiving way more benefits than they contribute in taxes.”

That argument suggests that if some U.S. citizens are a fiscal burden, we should also accept illegal aliens as burdens on the taxpayer. That is in effect an argument that we should have an immigration open door policy and welcome all comers regardless of the impact that they might have on the American public. There are some people who apparently support that view, but fortunately they are a small minority.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    These immigrants are a big benefit to McDonalds’ and other fast food franchises who do not want to pay their fair share of taxes….they are also part of the Globalist (CEO’s and bankster’s ) plans to undercut Americans wages, gut social security and entitlement programs and bring Cyprus style economic collapse to Amerika…..we already have a dodd-frank bank bailin coming to Amerika and it could happen any day now….Leandra read the 848 pages of this treason written into law at larouchepac.com The point is not whether illegals get benefits more than Americans-the point is this is part of a bigger plan by the globalists to ruin America’s sovereignty and merge it with Mexico and Canada to create a North American Union and replace the collapsed dollar with the Amero-this collapse has been long planned……..see davidicke.com or brutalproof.org or wearechange.org

    • avatar

      I don’t find illegals getting welfare to be a minor point, because over the decades they, and their children, are going to cost us trillions in welfare costs. You are correct about globalism. As many have said, these “free trade” agreements like the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership are just as much about global politics as they are about trade. We are going to end up under the jurisdiction of international trade panels who will rule against us most of the time, no matter what our laws say.

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        That is a drop in the bucket compared to the Americans /our own cost in the Welfare System……SO Leland why do you turn your face away to the main Welfare problem us?……besides even us is a drop in the bucket compared to hate the banks are doing and how the tax dollars are being end in the lobbyist………really do some research and you will be surprised….

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          I’ve already done the research. Immigrants, legal or illegal, use welfare programs at higher rates than native born Americans. Are you denying that?

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            Hi, I refused to violate my ethics and treat Veterans poorly with “fraudulent management practices” later reported nationwide by the Inspector General…. and I was gang abused by Paul Segien’s staff, at the local VA, DENIED 5 TRANSFER REQUESTS, (LONG BEFORE THE NEWS HIT THE NATIONALS NEWS)and finally removed by Felony signature fraud verified by Ron Rice of Checkmate forensic services. Ron is high profile on Monica Lewinsky case, OJ Simpson, Brook Shields, Vince Foster, Timothy McVeigh, Boston Strangler and more… Now I am unemployed 62 yr old, no benefits, had to go on subsidy for 1st time in my life. “Izelda” of the DTA denied me food stamps with NO NO NO NO clear documentation, just by word of mouth and a vague undone paper, i was denied. I told Izelda, “my family of Veterans and I fought for this country and worked our entire lives (i co founded a non-profit and sacrificed to help Americans for 20 years) and illegal immigrants get benefits easy?” Izelda infuriate(her supervisor did Zero when told) .I REACTED “WHAT DID i HEAR YOU SAY?” SHE went on and on and on….justifying her views…for months now she is allowed arbitrarily to deny or grant benefits to people, WITHOUT PROPER PAPERWORK….LOL ….THINK ABOUT IT GOV. BAKER?….do you have any idea what this means? JEFF KUNER WILL……, IZELDA still hasn’t granted me benefits returned…she is looking for more crumbs on my kitchen floor in case I have a penny hidden in a corner somewhere…but she has THE NEVER TO TELL ME “THE RULES ARE THE RULES” BUT THEY DO NOT APPLY TO HER AS AN ILLEGAL..”i WORKED MY WAY UP” SHE CLAIMED…..I have no job, no unemployment now and no benefits………My nephew went into the military IZELDA justified demanded!…….. Dept. Unemployment also has been a fiasco since unemployed (months and months) TOO. I HATE TO SOUND PARANOID BUT IS THIS ALL BECAUSE I HAVE A CASE IN FEDERAL COURT AGAINST THE VA? if if if if THE GOP can RIGG the elections, WHY cant I be being BLACKBALLED? I am going to my local rep Lou Kafka next because Sen. Stephen *****, Sen. Kennedy were ZERO HELP!..I have ALL the evidence and it cannot NOT be refuted….THY WILL BE DONE! GOD BLESS JEFF KUNER AN KUNER COUNTRY. All my relatives were LEGAL immigrants…NO SPIN PLEASE! I have reported to Gov. Charlies Baker all this..UNITED WE STAND DIVIDED WE FALL….no final decision yet by Gov. Baker…….Going to meet with Rep. Lou Kafka soon….lets see…..

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            my most important point was left out SOMEHOW 4/11/16 2:05PM POST ????????????????from my post. IZELDA TOLD ME ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS DESERVE JUST AS MANY BENEFITS AS ANY AMERICAN…AND YET SHE TOLD ME “THE RULES ARE THE RULES”…


            THIS IS EVIDENCE “liberalism is a mental disorder”…..

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          So your logic is that because we support citizens who are down on their luck, we should piss away the taxpayer’s money on anyone who can find their way across our borders?

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            Herm and Leland our problem in this land is actually people like you, hollow, naive, yes men, unable to re-invent themselves and think for themselves……I am not insulting you guys I am just sitting some true facts………..to both of you read what I said understand, comprehend and realize what I said…..wow!!!!

            No wonder we have stupid people running this place……

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            So if the Welfare is fixed to the majority of the people that abuse it…WHO?…..our OWN!!!….then the rest is no issue…..did you know 1+1 = 2″

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            NATIONAL SECURITY is #1. I heard a report that the mosques have been infiltrated and all are teaching Jihad…..DUMB DUMBS don’t learn…NOT ONE MUSLUM speaks up…for this country and I had 2 muslum women at the my non-profit I was helping. One was demanding someone sponsor her husband to return from Syria..”NOBODY WILL” SHE DEMANDED….i then asked her “if you had to choose between America or Syria which would you choose?” she said “Syria”..I said: THATS WHY NOBODY WILL SPONSOR YOUR HUSBAND..

            immigrants from long ago PLEDGED ALLIEGENCE TO THE FLAG…..THAT’S THE DIFFERENCE….

  2. avatar

    Flaming idiots come in many colors, those at the ITEP have apparently found their niche!

  3. avatar

    Supposedly immigrants are some big economic benefit. For anyone to claim that there is no problem with illegal or legal immigrants getting welfare because some Americans do is nonsense. Historically, immigrants were supposed to be self sustaining. In fact, many were turned around at Ellis Island because it was felt they would become “public charges”. And those allowed in did not get welfare because there were no such programs.

    The Philippines is just another country that wants to send their overpopulation here rather than solve their own problems. They need to stop listening to the Catholic church on birth control. There are over a hundred million people on those relatively small islands, far too many to make a decent living for the average person.

    • avatar

      And we have 325 million, after China and India, 3rd most populous. No room here either.

      • avatar

        Most of the American Empty Land Left

        Is either farm land, mountains and desert…..no water left, unbuildable or God forbid we develop it for overpopulation.

      • avatar

        There are roughly 320 Million Americans vs. 20 Million+ ILLEGAL ALIENS in the USA, OF COURSE there would be more Americans getting welfare. It’s the percentage that matters:

        More than half of households headed by immigrants in the county illegally, or 62 percent, received welfare benefits in 2012, according to a report released by the Center for Immigration Studies.

        In the same time period, 49 percent of households headed by legal immigrants received welfare benefits, while 30 percent of households headed by natives received the same.


        • avatar

          ok so out of the 20M illegal how many/percent is on Welfare? please give me that number

      • avatar

        We shouldn’t be admitting **anyone** who’s going to be on the dole.

        The U.S. exists for the benefit of its citizens, just as it says in the Constitution’s preamble (” … secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity … “). There’s no benefit to us in being the welfare agency for the world.

        • avatar

          I wholeheartedly agree Paul….We need to take care of our citizens and get them back to work. We cannot continue down this path. 20 Trillion in debt and if our Dollar collapses its lights out.

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            Russ Hulett you should spend sometime researching and coming back to reality to realize the 20 Trillion has nothing to do with illegal immigration……there has always been illegal immigration………..just spend sometime looking at number how States manage their assets and the gov affairs and lobbying…………then you will realize………stop writing things you repeat you read…you are supposed not to be a monkey and be citizen of a developed country…so reflect that………you will see what I am saying…..definitely illegal immigration is a problem but by far a drop in the bucket compared to the 20 trillion as a cause effect relationship.

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          Paul the other way around or you forgot where we come from?……The People exist for the benefit of the land…..not the other way around….the land does nothing = US……….The people and their way of life makes this place……just making sure ……..