Saturday, June 30, 2012

Indiana Claims Illegal Immigrants Cost State $130 Million

Gov. Mitch Daniels' budget director, Adam Horst, has prepared an estimate of what he says illegal immigrants costs Indiana. According to an AP report, Horst sent a bill to Congress in the amount of $130 million. According to Horst's estimate, education expenses account for $110.6 million, while prison costs and welfare costs were $12.3 million and $8 million, respectively. The AP report is very short on details, which is no surprise. Horst prepared the estimate based on an immigration enforcement law the legislature past last year, parts of which are sure to be struck down after this past week's Supreme Court decision striking down most of Arizona's immigration enforcement law. Indiana's Office of Management and Budget didn't even bother to put any information about its estimate on its website. For all we know, Horst simply pulled the numbers out of his ass. Here's what SB 590 required his office to do:

Sec. 17. (a) As used in this section, "alien" has the meaning set forth in 8 U.S.C. 1101(a).
(b) As used in this section, "illegal alien" means an alien who has come to, entered, or remained in the United States in violation of the law.
(c) As used in this section, "total costs" includes, but is not limited to, costs related to incarceration, education, health care, and public assistance.
(d) Not later than July 1, 2012, the OMB shall, using existing resources, do the following:
(1) Calculate an estimate of the total costs of illegal aliens to the state of Indiana.
(2) Make a written request to the Congress of the United States to reimburse the state of Indiana for the costs calculated under subdivision (1).
(e) This section expires July 1, 2013.

The statute is poorly written. It is doesn't even specify the time period the "total costs" are to include. Is that how much it cost the state last year, the last ten years or some other period? The costs were suppose to include health care, but Horst's numbers as reported by the AP make no mention of health care costs. The Marion County Health & Hospital Corporation, alone, provides millions of dollars in free health care annually to undocumented aliens who lack health insurance or money to pay for their health care expenses. The bottom line is that the numbers furnished by Horst aren't worth the paper they're written on. His office didn't want to prepare the one-time estimate required by the law and obviously put no effort into compiling the costs. A more meaningful estimate would have also included an offset for the estimated taxes paid by illegal immigrants, many of whom file income tax returns using taxpayer identification numbers. Illegal immigrants also pay other taxes, such as sales, motor fuel and excise taxes that are used to pay for various state services. Some also own property and pay property taxes that help pay for schools.

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