As Europe Demonstrates, Uncontrolled Mass Migration Is Expensive

There’s an ongoing debate about how much mass migration costs the United States. The open-borders lobby claims that all migrants are a net economic boon. Proponents of this position typically rely on complex economic concepts – like “gross domestic product” and “public goods” – to show that immigrants inject wealth into U.S. communities.

Mathematically, however, the case advanced by the economic obfuscators simply doesn’t add up. Most illegal aliens pay few, if any, taxes. And the low-skilled legal immigrants that the U.S. is currently attracting typically earn low wages. Therefore they pay low taxes.  Meanwhile, both groups consume government services at a much higher rate than U.S. citizens. If you receive benefits but don’t pay for them, someone else has to make up the difference. In this case, it’s the American public.

And, in many cases, immigrants tend to drive up the price of delivering those services. The extra costs associated with educating limited English proficiency students in public schools and vetting immigrants from developing countries are good examples.

For anyone who has any doubt about the costs associated with unchecked mass migration –Europe provides an instructive case study. The migrant crisis that began in 2015 has resulted in the sudden, mass infusion of at least 1.2 million individuals into European countries.

As Giulio Meotti of the Gatestone Institute reports, the recent arrival in Europe of hordes of Middle Eastern migrants is straining national treasuries to the breaking point:

  • Germany’s federal government spent 21.7 billion euros in 2016 dealing with the migrant crisis. Germany has a federal/state system similar to that of the United States. It is unclear how much state governments have spent on migrants, but the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development recently found that, “the cost of integrating refugees is largely borne by sub-central governments.”
  • This year, Germany’s budget for security will grow by at least one third, from 6.1 billion to 8.3 billion euros. The vast majority of the additional expenditure is directly related to security costs associated with the migrant crisis.
  • Italy will spend 4.2 billion euros on migrants in 2017 – a number equal to one-seventh of Italy’s entire 2016 budget.
  • Spain plans to spend 12 million euros reinforcing the wall around its North African enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla. These overseas territories have been besieged by migrants attempting to reach European Union soil without actually crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. The physical barriers protecting them are the only reason these cities have not been overrun.

While many of the European migrants have technically been “accepted” by France, Italy, Germany, Sweden and other countries, few have been interviewed and processed, and even fewer have been vetted. Accordingly, as a cohort, they resemble the illegal aliens who make their way into the interior of the U.S. to take up residence in “sanctuary cities.” And their fiscal impact on European government budgets gives a good indication of how much unchecked mass migration really costs.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar
    Not Politically Correct on

    The wall will be much cheaper than continued education of children who don’t speak English and healthcare for illegals pregnant with anchor babies.

  2. avatar

    The media constantly lies about the fact of “no go” zones in countries like Sweden, which do exist. Police do not go into these areas except in groups. A 60 Minutes Australia camera crew was attacked last year when they entered a neighborhood of African “refugees” in Sweden. An Eastern European politician recently said that if “they want more Muslims than Belgians in Brussels it doesn’t mean we have to do it”. One of the shooters at the Paris concert hall massacre a couple years ago fled to Brussels where the police stated he was able to avoid detection for months because the members of that community hid him.

    Advocates for illegals constantly insist that we won’t have cheap vegetables without them harvesting. This ignores the fact that many agricultural products now come from Mexico. including berries, tomatoes, avocados, and other crops.

    • avatar

      Your comment holds water…we still have the same system as 1000 years ago…..the wealthy n the slaves who pay the taxes….. immigrant s n illegals a drop in the bucket ….