Do Illegal Immigrants Cost More Than They Bring In?

By: Zac Schultz
By: Zac Schultz

Madison: At the heart of the immigration debate is the question do illegal immigrants bring more to this country than they take out?

If there's one thing we do know it's that no matter your position there is a study out there that agrees with you.

It is known that illegal immigrants and their children use billions of dollars of public services in public education, incarceration and emergency room healthcare. But most of the times the numbers are estimates.

For example, we know the Wisconsin Department of Corrections imprisoned 1,100 illegal aliens at some time last year, ut not all stayed for a full year so we only know the costs was in the $10's of millions.

Schools don't keep data on whether students are here legally, but we know each student costs more than $10 thousand a year, more if they need special services for things like English as a second language education.

Just how big the boost illegal immigrants bring to the economy is unknown as well. UW Asst. Law Professor Bernard Trujillo says there's a short term cost for a long term gain. "There is a short term cost and the folks that feel the short term costs the most are high school dropouts–folks that are most likely to be substituted–to lose their job to an undocumented worker."

Professor Trujillo says some hard–liners oppose educating illegal immigrants, but he says that's a bad idea because no matter much it costs to teach them now, if we don't it will cost a whole lot more later on down the line.

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