This week, the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether to count self-identified illegal immigrants in the 2020 census. Cities worry adding the citizenship question could undercount 6.5 million people. Their argument, however, isn't just about political power but billions of dollars in federal funds states expect.
"We're talking about billions of dollars in taxpayer benefits over the next few years," said Dan Stein, director of the right-leaning think tank, Federation for American Immigration Reform. "The payout for the taxpayer is enormous and income to the Treasury is miniscule."
A FAIR study in 2017 found illegal immigrants are a net consumer of taxpayer benefits worth more than $100 billion a year, not including the cost of enforcing the border.
While federal benefits are supposed to be off limits, in practice many are not. More than 25,000 undocumented workers receive subsidized housing, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Children receive free education and most qualify for English lessons and free school breakfast and lunch.