Benefits for Illegal Aliens

Some Program Costs Increasing, But Total Costs Unknown Gao ID: T-HRD-93-33 September 29, 1993

The benefits available to illegal aliens and their U.S. citizen children make up a small but rising percentage of costs for some government programs, such as Medicaid, public education, and food stamps. Existing cost estimates, however, provide at best a sketchy picture of the situation. Illegal aliens are not required to reveal their status to receive some benefits; in other cases, officials are prohibited from asking about alien status. National cost data are only available for welfare benefits, which in fiscal year 1992 totaled $479 million for illegal aliens with children who are U.S. citizens. The five states accounting for nearly 80 percent of the illegal immigrant population--California, Texas, New York, Illinois, and Florida--pegged the total cost of federal, state, and local aid to illegal aliens at about $2.9 billion. The costs of providing these benefits appear to be on the upswing. These cost estimates, however, exclude government revenues attributable to illegal aliens.

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