While many immigrants who come here illegally are simply looking for better lives for themselves and their families, the consequences for legal citizens are often deleterious.

Illegal immigration has a devastating impact on low-wage workers whose employers give them their jobs.

Illegal immigrants use billions of dollars of health services each year, supplemented with revenues from state and federal taxes.

Of course, living as an illegal immigrant in the United States virtually requires one to commit several crimes, anything from identity theft to fraud, but illegal immigration often brings far more serious offenses. According to the Department of Justice, out of the 183,058 inmates in Bureau of Prisons custody, 38,132 (21%) were reported as known or suspected aliens. In Texas alone, 251,000 criminal aliens have been booked into local jails between June 1, 2011, and April 30, 2018. Of the 663,000 criminal offenses they were charged with, 1,351 were homicides and 7,156 were sexual assaults.

Illegal immigration affects different states in different ways, including right here in the Bay State, where, according to a Pew Research Center report, the illegal migrant population grew more in Massachusetts than any other state from 2007 to 2017 — a 60,000 spike that costs Massachusetts taxpayers and risks public safety.

As the Herald’s Rick Sobey reports, legal immigration advocates are sounding the alarm.

“Besides the cost to taxpayers, there are public safety implications when you fail to control illegal immigration,” said Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies. “And the continuing high levels of illegal immigrants undermine the integrity of our legal immigration system.”

Illegal immigrants annually cost Massachusetts taxpayers an estimated $2 billion for welfare, education and other costs — a price that will only rise as the illegal immigrant population goes up, she said.

“They’re a net fiscal drain because they don’t pay enough in taxes to cover the cost of the social services they use,” Vaughan said. “So the more illegal immigrants, the higher costs to taxpayers.”

It is possible to both have compassion for illegal migrants and insist that our laws are followed. In fact, lawful compliance is compassionate, as legal immigration comes with little risk to the immigrant or the United States and is usually very fruitful for both.

During his State of the Union address in February, President Trump delivered the right message on illegal immigration, particularly along the southern border.

“Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate. It is actually very cruel,” he said. “One in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north. Smugglers use migrant children as pawns to exploit our laws and gain access to our country. Human traffickers and sex traffickers take advantage of the wide open areas between our ports of entry to smuggle thousands of young girls and women into the United States and to sell them into prostitution and modern-day slavery.

“Tens of thousands of innocent Americans are killed by lethal drugs that cross our border and flood into our cities,” he continued.

Elected leaders must do more to dissuade foreigners from coming to the United States illegally and persuade them to enter legally. They must also support law enforcement in border security efforts and stop incentivizing illegal immigration with the prospect of amnesty.


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