President Obama came to Nevada this past week with pen in hand and Nevada Sen. Harry Reid by his side to explain to the world how he is going to unilaterally rewrite law and waive deportation for about 5 million illegal immigrants.
“This is personal to me,” Reid said in a statement. “There is no issue I have worked on more in my time as Democratic leader than immigration reform. Comprehensive immigration reform brings relief to families being torn apart by our broken system. Comprehensive immigration reform is an economic issue and one we must address.”
What Reid and Obama failed to address is just who is going to pick up the tab for this magnanimity.
Hint: The states.
That is because it is the states that pay for education and most medical care and welfare benefits.
Nevada will be the hardest hit of any state, because Nevada has twice the percentage of illegal immigrants of any state and therefore will have to pay twice as much to cover Obama’s and Reid’s generosity.
According to a Pew Research Center report this past week, in 2012 Nevada’s population included 7.6 percent illegal immigrants, twice the national average; its workforce was 10.2 percent illegals, also twice the national average; and its school enrollment included 17.7 percent whose parents are not in the country legally, two and half times the national average. Those figures are up from two years prior.
And the number will go up since more illegals are expected to try to join family members already here, expecting little chance of detection or deportation — not that many of those aforementioned 5 million, including thousands of convicted criminals, really were ever going to be deported by this administration.
The state of Nevada alone, not counting local school districts, has budgeted $3.2 billion for public education operating costs this fiscal year, meaning it costs the state a minimum of $570 million a year to educate the children of illegal immigrants.
A report by the Federation for American Immigration Reform spells out some of the benefits for which newly legalized immigrants will be eligible, many state funded. Aliens with so-called deferred action will get Social Security cards, Earned Income Tax Credit, unemployment benefits and Medicare. If they are children and pregnant women, they are also eligible for health care benefits through Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Also, under federal law, anyone who shows up at an emergency room requesting treatment must be screened and treated, regardless of ability to pay or citizenship. The costs can’t be quantified, but doubtlessly top hundreds of millions of dollars for Nevada alone. In 2009, one Las Vegas hospital calculated that it cost $24 million a year to provide dialysis treatments to just 80 illegal immigrants.
Gov. Brian Sandoval has expanded Medicaid, which could make newly “legal” immigrants eligible for that and other benefits.
A Heritage Foundation report has estimated the fiscal cost of amnesty to be $40 billion a year.
Additionally, the impact on the federal coffers is not insignificant. That Earned Income Tax Credit that can come with that Social Security card can be quite lucrative, according to The Daily Caller’s review of IRS rules. Under the EITC, two parents earning $53,000 in 2014 with three or more children could get a $6,000 tax credit. A family with two children and an income of $20,000 could receive $14,590 in taxpayer funds. Nearly half of all legal and illegal immigrants have income below the poverty level.
By the way, Reid had a different solution to the broken immigration system back in 1993. While introducing a bill to deny citizenship to children born here of illegal immigrant mothers, he said, “If making it easy to be an illegal alien isn’t enough, how about offering a reward for being an illegal immigrant? No sane country would do that, right? Guess again. If you break our laws by entering this country without permission and give birth to a child, we reward that child with U.S. citizenship and guarantee access to all public and social services this country provides. Now that’s a lot of services.”
If the federal government is going to foist this unfunded mandate on state and local taxpayers in Nevada to provide a lot of services, our Washington delegation should demand compensation from the federal coffers. Or our new Republican state attorney general should file suit to recover damages. — TM