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Proposal to Insure Illegal Aliens Could Cost Taxpayers Billions

January 4, 2007

Washington DC - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to provide health coverage to every child in California, including illegal aliens, could leave the state liable for untold billions in unforeseen costs in the future, warns the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The conservatively estimated cost of $400 million a year could easily balloon to many times that figure. Costs will grow as the numbers of illegal aliens in California increase and may rise even more dramatically as legal residents of other states take advantage of a federal law that requires that state benefits made available to illegal aliens must be made available to all legal U.S. residents.

The irony of Gov. Schwarzenegger's proposal to publicly fund health insurance for an estimated 6.5 million residents who lack basic coverage is that illegal immigration has been one of the key factors in creating millions of uninsured Californians. A large percentage of U.S. citizen children without coverage are the offspring of illegal immigrants. Moreover, the presence of millions of low-wage illegal aliens in the California labor force has led to many employers dropping coverage that they used to provide to workers and their families.

"Gov. Schwarzenegger's proposal, if enacted, would create yet another magnet attracting still more illegal aliens to California," commented Dan Stein, president of FAIR. "Illegal aliens themselves will be attracted by this very generous benefit the governor wants to make available, and the knowledge that the taxpayers will pick up the tab for health insurance will convince still more California employers to shift that cost burden to the public."

Another factor apparently not accounted for by Gov. Schwarzenegger is a provision of a 1996 federal immigration law that requires a state that provides a benefit to illegal immigrants to make that same benefit available to all legal residents of the U.S. "There are millions of children all across the country who do not have health insurance," observed Stein. "If this proposal is enacted, all of them could claim the same health benefits in California, according to federal law. Gov. Schwarzenegger is either unaware of this law, or ignoring it."

California voters have made it repeatedly clear that they oppose granting benefits to illegal aliens and that they demand fiscal responsibility from their elected officials. "The governor's proposal runs afoul of the public's distaste for being burdened with the costs of illegal immigration - even if the state had the resources, which clearly it does not. In addition to creating a vast and expensive new entitlement for illegal aliens, Gov. Schwarzenegger's plan is short on details about how he plans to pay for it now and into the future," said Stein.

"Illegal immigration is the leading cause for the increase of uninsured families in California and throughout the U.S. The problem can only be addressed by enforcing laws against illegal immigration, not through unsustainable schemes that will only encourage more illegal immigration," Stein concluded.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a national, non-profit, public interest membership organization of concerned citizens who share a belief in stronger border enforcement, an end to illegal immigration, and a reduction of immigration levels consistent with national interests.



Federation for American Immigration Reform
1666 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20009
Tel: (202) 328-7004 Fax: (202) 387-3447