Lawmakers try to figure cost of illegal immigration in NC

Posted January 25, 2012

— Various state agencies on Wednesday gave lawmakers their best estimates as to how much illegal immigrants cost North Carolina taxpayers.

More than 100 people packed the meeting room for the hearing by the House Select Committee on the State's Role in Immigration – half in support of illegal immigrants and half who want the state to take action against them.

Lawmakers learned that trying to calculate the cost to taxpayers for services to illegal immigrants is not as easy as they thought. The only solid number presented to the two-hour hearing was the $1.3 million spent on emergency medical care.

Officials with the state Department of Revenue, Division of Motor Vehicles and Department of Health and Human Services told lawmakers that illegal immigrants aren't eligible for most services, like food stamps or unemployment, and the benefits they can receive, such as education, are mostly mandated by federal law.

"It was interesting to hear those facts today that (agencies) are checking status and that there are limited benefits that we provide. I think it's a great information-gathering situation," said Rep. Sarah Stevens, R-Surry.

Lawmakers just want to make sure illegal immigrants are contributing more to the state than their cost, Stevens said. More agencies will present reports to the committee next month.

Irene Godinez, legislative director for the Latin American Coalition, said a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study has found that illegal immigrants and their families pay hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local taxes in North Carolina every year.

North Carolina flag, NC flag, state flag, N.C. flag Cost of illegal immigration hard to pin down

James Johnson, a member of North Carolinians for Immigration Reform and Enforcement, said he's glad to see lawmakers looking into the issue.

"It seems like they want to do something to control the illegal alien population in our state. So, we're encouraged," Johnson said.

Godinez said, however, that the information the agency officials offered Wednesday has been available for years.

"It's a concern that we're wasting valuable time and $17,000 of North Carolina taxpayers' money for this committee," she said.

Immigration is generally a federal issue, and laws passed in other states this year are now tied up in courts.

Johnson said he doesn't see that as a deterrent to North Carolina taking action.

"That doesn't preclude us from going ahead and enacting the legislation now," he said.

Godinez said she worries that legislators will push for laws that target immigrants unfairly.

"We just want to have a civil dialog here in North Carolina and to put pressure on our federal government to do something on immigration reform," she said.

Stevens said she also wants to see federal reform, noting that North Carolina and other states are caught in the middle of the issue.

"It should be a federal problem, and If they're not taking it on at all, we have to do what we can within the borders of the state," she said.


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  • countrymandhc Jan 27, 2012

    Coolwill43 your right . The money made by Americans stays in America.

  • jwcobbnc Jan 27, 2012

    Watts1000: Alabama unemployment rate is approx 8 percent, so I'm not sure how you can decrease it another 20% like you claim. Since November, AL's unemployment rate has dropped from a little over 9& to just over 8%. This same trend has occured in all the states that border AL. To say the drop in unemployment in AL is because of decreased employment of illegals is to ignore the larger trend that the economy is getting better across the South for other reasons.
    Alabama passed the law in June with a 9.9% unemployment rate. The law became effective in September with a 9.8% unemployment rate. By December the rate was down to 8.1% for a 17% or 18% reduction. The reduction is twice the reduction of it's neighboring states. Only 50% of extended unemployment benefits are paid by the federal government. The other 50% is paid by the states.

  • coolwill43 Jan 26, 2012

    Don’t be stupid, the illegal aliens cost this state plenty and they secure jobs quicker than any other. Big business and the state, local and feds can't do with out them. What race is in the majority at all construction and repair sites? A lot of theses sites are government construction. Tell me what branch of government does E-verify? What happens is they may check the contractor but not the workers. Why do we need to give out any green cards, visa and work permits when there is so many people looking for jobs? Watch out for those grease palm in the general assembly and local and federal government

  • Krimson Jan 26, 2012

    Because nothing shouts "Freedom" like having to "show your papers" to the Police, right TaxMan... You would turn us into a Police State to get rid of a coupe hundred thousand undesirables... I bet you complain about Obama taking away your freedoms too, and to think you are willing to just give them up on your own to get rid of someone that mows your lawn...

  • aprilhunter220 Jan 26, 2012

    Why do you think they have a ton of children? So they can get even more health care and food benifits for free,because they sure don't parent them in any way..Just go to your local Wal-Mart and see how many of them are running through the store with no supervision. How many of them drink and get into a car and end up killing other people? They act like we owe them something. I don't owe them squat.

  • fungod12000 Jan 26, 2012

    Hence forth the rough economy...

  • Tax Man Jan 26, 2012

    First of all there is no such thing as an illegal IMMIGRANT. They are illegal aliens and they are trespassers. Immigrants are those who come here legally and have our permission to stay. We do need to get these laws in effect, even if the federal government challenges them. We need to make it very hard for any criminal illegal alien to get any work in the state or any services, other than true emergency medical care. And anyone who hires them or provides them housing should be severely punished economically and criminally. If there is no work and no place to legally stay they will "self deport" as Mr. Romney tells us. Well, they need to self deport themselves right out of NC permanently and the best way to do that is to enact strict state laws - look at Arizona - although the laws are tied up in federal court a large number of illegals left AZ in a rush and have not returned because the Sheriffs will arrest, detain and deport them! We need very strict enforcement here!

  • Servent Jan 26, 2012

    How about what they save NC

  • maybelle Jan 26, 2012

    Just think if you are not legal and pregnant you can get your hospital bills for delivery paid and your child will have medicaid for life.
    And you get lots of food stamp money forever. This means you can eat better than most americans who work and are legal

  • Mark Hayes Jan 26, 2012

    Daisy, Please,please stop with all that ,thats like building a house and letting the wildlife run through it,yes they were here first also but do you have coyotes running around your kitchen,get a grip stop trying to justify your cause with such nonsense.