Immigrating U.S. over a fiscal cliff


July 5, 2023

By Matt O’Brien

Economist Milton Friedman once said, “It’s just obvious you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state.” What he meant was that if you construct a welfare state, you will attract a never-ending stream of low-skilled migrants who are attracted by the promise of state subsidized benefits. For several generations after they arrive, those migrants will generally not pay enough taxes to cover the costs of the services they consume, because they occupy the lowest rungs of the wage scale.

At this point, Professor Friedman must be spinning in his grave. After eight years of the Obama Administration, the United States is as close to being a cradle-to-grave nanny state as it has ever been. And two and a half years of Joe Biden have effectively erased our border with Latin America. We now have the two very conditions that Friedman warned about as well as sparks and gasoline.

As of March 8, illegal immigration was costing the United States approximately $150.7 billion. And Team Biden’s “let ‘em all in” migration policies have added close to a million more illegal aliens since then. Moreover, that $150 billion figure doesn’t account for how much the United States is spending on legal immigrants.

Once upon a time, aliens lawfully migrating to the U.S. were required to demonstrate financial solvency, or be supported by a financial sponsor. But the public charge rules that ensured recent arrivals didn’t wind up on the taxpayer-funded dole have been gutted by the anti-borders lobby – despite the Trump Administration’s best efforts to revive them.  

The vast majority of current migrants are low-skilled individuals who qualify for only the most basic entry-level jobs. A significant percentage will go on publicly-funded benefits in order to survive. California has already proposed giving recently arrived migrants $300 a week for up to 20 weeks, regardless of their immigration status. And the Biden Administration proposed a new rule to give free healthcare to the 800,000 illegal aliens covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Heaven knows what kind of legal gymnastics it will engage in to extend public benefits to the latest crop of illegal aliens it has allowed to desecrate our national sovereignty. To add insult to injury, it is a virtual certainty that the millions of border jumpers invited in by Biden will never achieve enough financial success to pay for the public services they consume.

In essence, Biden and his anti-borders supporters have engineered a special form of foreign aid that requires the recipients to enter the U.S. unlawfully in order to cash in. And that is in addition to the $32 billion that American taxpayers already pony up to provide in foreign aid all over the world. Latin America has been a particular recipient of that largesse. According to the Congressional Research Service, between FY1946 and FY 2019, the U.S. provided $93.8 billion of assistance to the region. Apparently, that money was not well spent, since – if the asylum claims being advanced by recent migrants are to be believed – conditions throughout most of Latin American have not improved.

In essence, Biden and his anti-borders supporters have engineered a special form of foreign aid that requires the recipients to enter the U.S. unlawfully in order to cash in.

But what effect is this massive redistribution of American wealth having on the economy and financial solvency of the United States? Despite its freebies for illegal aliens, California faces a $32 billion budget deficit. Governor Gavin Newsom’s latest budget provided no aid to ailing public transport networks or distressed hospitals overflowing with illegal alien patients. It also called for closing two prisons. One might think that safe transport, functioning hospitals and secure prisons might be fiscal priorities for the Golden State. But apparently the politicos in Sacramento believe it is more important to throw free money at uninvited foreigners.

Meanwhile, our national government is just as broke as California. The federal budget deficit hovers at $1.4 trillion and annual deficits over the 2024-2025 periods are projected to hit or exceed $2.0 trillion. While that is down from a high of $2.6 trillion in 2021, Congress has raised the debt ceiling in order to prohibit the United States from defaulting on its financial obligations.

It should be a fundamental, uncontested precept that the United States belongs to Americans. To the extent that foreign nationals are granted access to our country, their admission should, first and foremost, benefit U.S. citizens in some way – whether that be economically, culturally or otherwise.

But, the wanton mass admission of foreigners to the United States accrues no benefit whatsoever to the citizens of this country – especially when we rapidly transfer wealth generated by Americans to foreigners with no long-term connections to our nation. U.S. citizens are right to worry about the long-term social, cultural and linguistic effects of unchecked mass migration.

But at the rate we are going, both our state and national leaders seem bound and determined to immigrate the U.S. off a fiscal cliff long before our culture succumbs. And we may just witness our national sovereignty evaporating along with our bank accounts.

Matt O’Brien is the director of investigations at the Immigration Reform Law Institute and the co-host of IRLI’s podcast “No Border, No Country.” Immediately prior to working for IRLI he served as an immigration judge. He has nearly 30 years of experience in immigration law and policy, having held numerous positions within the Department of Homeland Security.

Also published at The Washington Times, July 4, 2023.

Photo credit: Jericho, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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