When the Atlantic Journal Constitution (AJC) told its readers that the new International Welcome Center in nearby DeKalb County was overwhelmed by new students registering for class last week, their feedback column lit up with frustration and anger. Wrote Laurie113: “The problem is WHY are so many of these kids flooding the school system, and WHY are taxpayers having to foot the bill?” Hera added: “You voted for CHANGE and now you got it. Now YOU CAN PAY FOR IT.”
Closest to the mark was Christinati, who wrote: “This will never end as long as this country is providing free education and free healthcare for illegal immigrants. This situation is only getting worse and will continue.”
According to the AJC there is no way for school officials to know for sure just how many illegals are registering for class: They aren’t allowed to ask. If kids show up, they are allowed in. The AJC said that there were more than 200 applicants the first day and the staff was able to process only about 60 of them. The rest received numbered cards and were asked to return later in the week depending on their number. The center has been open all summer and has already registered more than 1,000 new students.
To get an idea behind the additional costs generated by the students, we give this quote by the DeKalb International Center as to special remediation that they must take with these students:
Students from 4th through 12th grades are sent to the International Center upon their arrival in the DeKalb School System. Each child is given a battery of tests to determine his or her command of English and other academic subjects. Depending on the results of those tests, they are placed in orientation and English language classes for three to six weeks at the Center.
At any given time, there are approximately 150-175 children in the Center, and during a typical school year some 2,500 students are served. There are four classrooms at the Center, and students are at the Center from 8:30 am until 1:00 p.m., when they return to their home schools.
Robert Rector and Jason Richwine, research fellows at the Heritage Foundation, if they read that news, would no doubt appreciate the accuracy of their predictions in their report #133 — “The Fiscal Costs of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer” — released a year ago. After careful study of the immigration crisis and doing the math on all the benefits to which illegals would become entitled under amnesty proposals, they concluded,
Over a lifetime, the former unlawful immigrants together would receive $9.4 trillion in government benefits and services and pay [only] $3.1 trillion in taxes. [Emphasis added.]
They would generate a lifetime fiscal deficit (total benefits minus total taxes) of $6.3 trillion.
They added an important footnote:
This should be considered a minimum estimate. It probably understates real future costs because it undercounts the number of unlawful immigrants and [their] dependents who will actually receive amnesty and underestimates significantly the future growth in welfare and medical benefits.
The report reviewed the impact on direct benefits (such as Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation) but failed to measure the costs associated with ObamaCare. It included “means-tested” welfare benefits that immigrants would eventually qualify for, shifting the emphasis from “free” to “entitled” due to some earning requirements. It also included the cost of educating each student, estimated on average to be more than $12,000 a year, as well as “population-based” services such as police, fire, highways, parks, and other services that will have to grow to serve the increasing population.
The Heritage report said there is another cost to the flood of unlawful immigrants: the impact on those already legally living and working in the country:
Unlawful immigration also probably drives many of our most vulnerable U.S.-born workers out of the labor force entirely. Unlawful immigration thus makes it harder for the least advantaged U.S. citizens to share in the American dream.
The fellows at Heritage no doubt would be surprised at how quickly those costs would begin to impact local school districts, and how, based upon the number of immigrants flooding that single “welcome center,” just how low their original estimate of $6 trillion is likely to turn out to be.
A graduate of Cornell University and a former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at www.LightFromTheRight.com, primarily on economics and politics. He can be reached at