A new House Homeland Security Committee report has found that the ongoing migrant crisis at the southern border could cos taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars each year, as Republicans blame what they say are “open borders” policies from the Biden administration.
The report is the committee’s fourth interim report on DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ handling of the border crisis, which saw more than 2.4 million migrant encounters at the southern border in FY 23. The report focuses on the financial costs of the crisis, which it attributes to the Biden administration’s policies.
“Only a small fraction [of the costs] is ever recouped from the taxes paid by illegal aliens, with the rest falling on the shoulders of American citizens and lawful residents,” the report says. “Mass illegal immigration, accelerated by Mayorkas’ open-borders policies, now represents a massive cost to the federal government and state governments alike, as well as the pocketbooks of private citizens and businesses.
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It cites studies by the hawkish Center for Immigration Studies, which found that the annual cost to care for and house illegal immigrants could reach up to $451 billion. It separately cites estimates from the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for lower immigration levels, that the annual net burden as of 2022 is more than $150 billion.
The report points to health care costs, including Medicaid expenditures for illegal immigrants estimated at over $5 billion a year, the costs of the fentanyl crisis, law enforcement costs, and costs for states to educate migrant children.
It also points to the costs of housing and sheltering — particularly in the enormous costs seen in cities like New York City where tens of thousands of migrants have traveled after being released into the U.S., and the costs to ranchers and local businesses near the border. New York City Mayor Eric Adams earlier this year estimated the city’s crisis alone could cost $12 billion by 2025.
“It is morally unacceptable that American taxpayer dollars should be funneled to those who violate our laws and demand expansive, taxpayer-funded benefits like education, health care, housing, and more. Many of these individuals will likely represent a drain on American society for the remainder of their days in the United States, constantly absorbing more benefits from the state than they ever contribute — to say nothing of the fact that they have no lawful basis to remain in the country to begin with,” the report says.
“Mayorkas’ policies have enabled this mass waste and abuse of taxpayer resources. His policies and actions have encouraged millions of people to cross our borders illegally. His department has released millions of illegal aliens into the United States rather than detaining or removing them, as required by law. And there is no end in sight,” it says.
The report drew criticism from DHS, which accused Republicans of wasting time on attacking Mayorkas.
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“While the House Majority has wasted months trying to score points with baseless attacks, Secretary Mayorkas has been doing his job and working to keep Americans safe,” a DHS spokesperson said. “Under his leadership, the Department of Homeland Security is stopping unprecedented amounts of fentanyl from entering the country, countering threats from the Chinese government, helping communities recover from natural disasters, and working to protect our nation from cyberattacks, terrorism, and targeted violence.”
“Instead of continuing their reckless impeachment charades and attacks on law enforcement, Congress should work with us to keep our country safe, build on the progress DHS is making, and deliver desperately needed reforms for our broken immigration system that only legislation can fix,” they said.
DHS has also previously highlighted its efforts to support states and communities hit by the migrant crisis, including $770 million to 69 organizations in the last fiscal year to support those receiving migrants, as well as moves including speeding up work permit applications and teams of experts to provide services in cities like New York and Boston.
Democrats on the committee were similarly critical of the report. Ranking Member Bennie Thompson said it is a “bald-faced lie that immigrants are a financial burden on our country — a claim that has been consistently debunked by immigration experts on both the right and left for decades.”
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“This report, full of racist rhetoric for the extreme MAGA base of the Republican Party, is just the latest attempt to get support for Republicans’ completely baseless attempt to impeach Secretary Mayorkas. Instead of politically motivated attacks on the Secretary, Republicans should support Democrats’ efforts to provide border personnel the resources they need,” he said.
The White House has requested $14 billion for border operations, which includes grants to local governments, and more immigration officers to speed up work documents for migrants. The Biden administration has also called for a comprehensive immigration reform bill to be passed in Congress — but Republicans have rejected it due to the inclusion of a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants.
Republicans, meanwhile, have passed their own immigration and border security legislation — which includes border wall construction and limits on parole and asylum — but that has so far been rejected by Democrats.