California is home to Hollywood and billionaire movie stars and even has wealth built into its official nickname – The Golden State. So, why does it have the highest poverty rate in the nation? There are a variety of theories, depending on who you ask. Today let’s take a look at one of the most significant factors: undocumented immigrants and the welfare system.
PJ Media has some alarming statistics:
- One out of five Californians is poor according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure report by the United States Census Bureau
- A whopping 55% of welfare recipients are immigrants.
- In comparison, only 30% of native Californians receive aid.
- State and local governments spent $958 billion from 1992 to 2015 in welfare benefits.
California has one of the nation’s highest illegal immigrant populations – most likely due to its proximity to Mexico and the need for cheap farm labor. According to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), 3,019,000 adult illegal immigrants live in the Golden State along with 1.1 million children (975,000 of whom would be considered anchor babies). In total, California is home to 4.12 million illegal immigrants and their children. But how much does this really cost the state? These “undocumented citizens” – as the left has cleverly taken to calling them – consume around 17.7% of the state’s budget – that’s about $30.29 billion per year, or $7,352 each. But that’s only the known costs and doesn’t include a lot of other intangible expenses.
Education: $15.63 Billion
Undocumented students have to be educated too, and make up about 18% of the student population. California’s state budget allocated $51.6 billion to the state’s K-12 students with the rest of the $88.3 budget funding provided by other local and federal initiatives. Illegal immigrant students eat up $15.63 billion from the total budget.
The teacher-to-student ratio is one of the highest in the nation, and the quality of education keeps decreasing.
Personal experience: As a native Californian from a poor Central Valley community, I can relate. A lot of time is used to help students who do not understand English while leaving “native” students twiddling their thumbs. One of my college associates filed a suit against her son’s school because he and two other students were told to sit aside and color while the teacher attended to the twenty or more in the class who could not understand the language.This, by the way, was about 25 years ago – it’s even worse now.
Healthcare: $4.02 Billion
NE suggests undocumented immigrants cost the state $2.28 billion from Medicaid and roughly $1.3 billion in emergency services. Unlike many low-to-middle income families who can’t get state medical aid, immigrants almost always qualify. Beyond just the financial cost, this also means longer wait times to be seen, less availability at the doctor’s office, and a host of other issues.
Personal experience: About 20 years ago, I broke my not-so-funny bone – my humerus – off (yes, off) of my elbow. Since I didn’t have medical insurance at the time, I had to wait to see a specialist. My physician made the appointment with a traveling bone surgeon – which took three weeks, in which my bone healed incorrectly. Three hours after my scheduled time, I finally had enough of the waiting and asked the nurse what was taking so long. Her response:
“We have to treat those with a translator first.”
In other words, I had to wait for hours after my pre-scheduled appointment because I could speak English without the need of a translator. And, to top it off, the necessary surgery was not approved because of lack of health insurance. To this day, my elbow is deformed and causes pain.
Sending Money Home: $3.86 Billion
If you were to ask native Californians how they feel about immigrants sending “home” their paychecks to support their families in other countries, the majority would burn your ears with their anger. Liberals cry out at the injustice of low-paying wages for labor and other work generally performed by illegal aliens. However, when you add all the “free” services they do receive (medical, housing, education, food, etc.), they come out ahead of the average state native quite often.
Now, add to this the fact that their wages, paid by state employers, isn’t being spent to boost the state’s economy. Instead, they send it to other countries, such as Mexico and Central America. NE broke down the numbers on a national average:
Given that there are 11.7 million legal immigrants from Mexico, and 3.1 million from Central America living in the USA, this gives as a pool of 14.8 million legal immigrants contributing to the remittance figures. We also know that 74% of illegal immigrants are from Mexico or Central America, or 8.14 million. This means that of the total Hispanic population assuming to be paying remittances, 35% are likely illegal immigrants. This works out to illegals paying out $14.31 billion to the region annually.
Since 27% of the known illegal immigrants in the nation live in California, this works out to the state losing $3.86 billion per year to other countries.
Crimes: $4.4 Billion
The cost to the state in crime committed by illegal immigrants is staggering, as NE points out:
The additional costs imposed by crimes committed by illegal immigrants, which include policing, court, and incarceration costs, add up to $4.4 billion, according to the study done by the Federation for American Immigration Reform. This includes an additional $1.85 billion for policing, $1.12 billion for court services, and $1.54 billion for prisons.
This isn’t just costing Golden State residents their tax dollars either: “75% of federal drug possession sentences were given to illegal immigrants and 40% of all federal crimes were committed in jurisdictions neighboring the Mexican border – meaning they were likely due to gang and drug trafficking committed by illegal immigrants.”
Here’s another statistic: “Illegal immigrants commit 38% of all murders in California, Texas, Arizona, Florida and New York.”
Do California officials really wonder why the state has the highest poverty level in the nation? Isn’t it obvious? Besides dumping loads of money into a welfare system that only encourages more people to seek aid, the costs associated with the state’s exceedingly high illegal immigrant population is throwing its citizens into the poor house. But, perhaps officials are well aware of this.
As a majority democratic state with a high number of immigrant population, supporting illegals is an excellent way make sure those Democrat votes keep rolling in.