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Cost of illegal immigrants to taxpayers

I am trying to develop a sound thesis concerning the staggering cost associated with illegal immigrants. The cost to our social welfare programs, schools opening and being staffed with 100% illegal immigrant children enrollment, healthcare, American jobs, and the death toll on our highways. All of this in the name of "cheap labor."

This NOT a report meant to come across as racist; I merely want to state the facts. I'm certain at least some people on this site will be offended, but it is not my intention; there is no way to paint a subject report that begins with the title "Illegal Immigration" in a positive light. This is my assignment.

Personal feelings aside, can anyone help me begin this thing with an opening line that states why American taxpayers are so frustrated with this particular sect of people without coming across as though it's filled with venom?

Expert Answers

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The biggest costs are the cost of education and health care. Since many illegal immigrants work under the table and do not pay taxes, some people say that they are not paying their fair share. They also go to the emergency room for routine health care, which ends up costing more.
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In your research, you may wish to look at the statistics on the state of California. There will be actual documented facts and figures that will not be unsubstantiated regarding the cost of illegal immigrants. 

The logic that illegals do not cost the United States money or the cost of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. cannot be substantiated is the same thinking as that of believing that the cost of welfare to all working Americans, regardless of their races, is not substantial.

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The above posts have all given you great advice. I would ask that in doing a paper on a topic that tends to evoke lots of emotion it is important to use verifiable facts to support your argument and to try and stay with those points of fact.

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You've received sound advice from the other posters. Here are several other points you might consider.

1. Do illegal immigrants have any effect on costs associated with crimes? For example, are they incarcerated at a higher rate than legal immigrants or citizens? If so, then you could discuss the burden that it places on taxpayers to pay for public defenders, prison housing, etc.

2. Do illegal immigrants increase unemployment for the general American population? If they do, then that would place more of a burden on taxpayers because they (we) pay for unemployment benefits.

3. How much money has been spent in the past three decades to train ESL teachers and develop programs for non-native English students? Be careful with this, though, because you will have to look at statistics for legal and illegal immigrant children.

To write a logical argument on any topic but especially on such a controversial topic as this, you need to try to stay away from emotional fallacies. Stick to the facts; carry out thorough research, and approach the paper with an open mind. You should also consider adding a concession to your paper which demonstrates that you recognize that there are benefits to America's accepting immigrants. This does not mean that you contradict yourself, but you need to show that you know what the other side's argument is and that you see some merit in it.

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#2 is a great post with sound advice on writing about this subject.

Another way to approach this (and arguing with fact rather than emotion is always more effective persuasion) is to express Americans' frustrations as part of a historical pattern.  Immigrants have been coming here in waves for almost two centuries.  Each time, a predictable pattern emerges, where the existing and dominant American culture feels threatened by the influx of new language and religion into cities, schools and the public, and there is typically a popular and legal backlash against these newcomers, whether they be Latinos in the modern day, Irish in the 1840s or Germans and Italians in the 1880s.

Another way to approach the subject is to highlight the right of sovereign nations to control who and what crosses their frontiers and under what circumstances.  That is, no country can long survive with open borders.

I have seen similar studies suggesting that illegal immigrants economic contributions, in terms of taxes they do pay, and the cost savings to Americans in terms of food and product prices being lower, offsetting much if not all of their economic cost in social services.  I don't know if any of those numbers can ever be definitively proven.

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First of all, I urge you to be cautious about your claims.  If I were an instructor reading your paper, my first thing would be to look for unsubstantiated claims.  So make sure that you have credible sources before you talk about schools that are 100% illegal, etc.

Second, are you sure that it is the economic cost that bothers Americans most?  (BTW, sect is not the right term here --- a sect is more of a religious group.)  My feeling is that what really bothers Americans is the fact that the people are illegal -- not how much they cost the taxpayers.

Which brings me to my third point -- studies I have read disagree on the impact of illegals on American taxpayers.  The disagreement comes because it is very hard to quantify how much illegals actually cost -- it is guesswork because data are not accurately gathered as to the immigration status of students, etc.  Remember also that illegals who are "legally" employed are paying taxes (Social Security and Medicare at least) without being able to participate in those programs later.  Anyway, the cost is not necessarily easy to quantify.

If I had to write about why Americans are frustrated, I would only say that economics is one small part.  I'd start it by saying something like

As economic times have grown harder and as more and more illegal immigrants have come to this country, American citizens have, for a number of reasons, become upset about the issue of illegal immigration.

From there, it depends on what you are really trying to argue -- are you trying to explain why Americans are mad or are you trying to argue that illegals cost us a lot of money?

Whatever you argue, you're not going to sound racist if your facts are accurate and you do not use incendiary language.  Also be sure to present both sides of the issue (like with the part about how illegals actually pay in to the Social Security system without being able to get anything out).

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