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The economic impact of illegal immigrants into Texas has drawn concerns for the state's economy, politics and health care. Illegal immigrants contribute both positively and negatively to Texas' economy. Basically they contribute in the labor industry and the country's economy through purchasing goods and paying tax when seeking for other services such as health, education and law enforcement services (Federation for American Immigration, 2003). The negative impacts these immigrants have on Texas's economy seems to overweigh these benefits. Their presence has depressed general wages for unskilled native Texas workers (Madelleine, 2005). They have led to overstretching of health and educational facilities. The rate of crime in Texas is also alarming due to the increasing numbers of illegal immigrants (Madelleine, 2005). This is reflected in the congested prison cells in Texas which mainly contain immigrants incarcerated for both minor and capital crimes. According to a survey carried out in 2002 and reported in New York Times, the economy of Texas can be associated with that of third world countries due to the increasing number of immigrants and their negative impacts on the economy (D'Agostino, 2004).
Statistics indicate that the federal government is forced to spend lot in the illegal immigrants in the United States (D'Agostino, 2004). Therefore, it is not in a position to fully support all the illegal immigrants. This clearly indicates that the partial support given by the federal government is not enough to support the undocumented immigrants in Texas implying the fact that the Tax payer in Texas has to dig deeper into his pocket to cater for this (Dweyer, 2004). This paper seeks to analyze both the benefits and disadvantages that come along with accommodating these immigrants in Texas. It seeks to give detailed information of how they have influenced Texas' economy in the recent past while giving attention to the limited benefits that accrue from having them in Texas. The paper mainly focuses on the economy, education, health and justice systems.
2.0 Impact of Illegal Immigrants on the Healthcare System
Undocumented immigrants in Texas have negatively impacted on the health care system (Guzzardi, 2003). Due to the large number of immigrants, there is no proper screening process to ensure that all foreign immigrants into Texas are free from contagious dieses such as dysentery and leprosy (Guzzardi, 2003). These immigrants are also uninsured hence causing financial strains in hospitals whereby the taxpayer is forced to foot for their bills. They have also necessitated removal of some crucial emergency services from hospitals for instance Parklands Hospital has had to do away with its emergency services due to the fact that it is experiencing financial strains and it is not in a position to provide these services to the increasing number of patients (Guzzardi, 2003). All these risks are discussed in the subheadings below.
2.1 Public Health Risks
Illegal immigrants are responsible for critical health problems experienced in Texas. First they pose pubic health risks. This is due to the fact that illegal immigrants don't undergo medical screening to ensure that they are free from all contagious diseases (Michael, 2003). Also their swelling numbers have set off resurgence for most contagious diseases which had been completely eradicated. Dr. Laurence Nickey who is the director of El Paso Health District asserts that contagious diseases which had been previously controlled by the United States governments are already being witnessed along the border. Dr. Nickey explains that leprosy which associated with third world countries is already in Texas while dysentery is also increasing amongst United States citizens in Texas (Dweyer, 2004). For illegal immigrants in Texas, the public water systems, sewage treatment facilities, environmental enforcement and medical health care services have not been made appropriately available for them because of the sort of congestion and overstretching of pubic services that is being experienced in Texas. This has resulted into severe health risks for United States citizens living in Texas.
In June 2009, an article in New England Journal indicated that 57.8 percent of new cases involving tuberculosis in Texas in the year 2007 were diagnosed in illegal immigrants. T.B infection rate among these illegal persons was reported to 9.8 times higher compared with the native Texas inhabitants (United States Services: Citizenship and Immigration, 2003). The article asserted that all foreign immigrants to Texas were not going trough the needed screening for contagious diseases because of the increased congestion in health facilities (United States Services: Citizenship and Immigration, 2003). In highlighting the health risks that illegal migrants pose to Texas, the article gave an example of a typhoid struck immigrant in Maryland who had worked for a food processing industry and the typhoid bacteria was transmitted trough food. Apparently illegal immigrants pose greater health risks Texas citizens. In 21st may 2003, New York Times also indicated that Pork tapeworm which is only experienced in Latin America was also being diagnosed in Texas. Its effects included seizures resulting to death, cysticercosis which can destroy the brain, causing vision and speech problems (Madelleine, 2005). The article indicted that the tapeworm had been transmitted from illegal immigrants from Latin America.
Los Angeles County supervisor Michael Antonovich D. was quick to note that Texas was running a Health Management system for illegal immigrants and that this might end up driving it Bankrupt (Dweyer, 2004). Also Madeleine Cosman in his article in the journal of American Physicians and Surgeons noted that free medical care had degraded resulting to closure of some crucial emergency services in Texas and bankruptcy in hospitals due to the rate at which illegal immigrants are getting into Texas. He also cited an example of 84 hospitals in California which wee closing doors for illegal immigrants (Dweyer, 2004).
2.2 Medicare costs
Undocumented immigrants in Texas are either underinsured or not insured at all (Dweyer, 2004). According to Statistics in 2001, 45 percent of these immigrants who are below 65 years have no health insurance (Michael, 2003). The cost of medical services on to the uninsured immigrants is passed into the Texas taxpayer. This is reflected in the financial strains experienced in the health care most Texas hospitals. Statistics from Parklands Memorial Hospital in 2006 indicated that those 70 percent of women who gave birth in the hospital in the first three months were aliens who had not been insured (Steven, 2004). These statistics also showed that in 2004, the hospital had spent $70.7 million in delivering 15,938 babies. Medicaid paid $34.5 million while Dallas County taxpayers footed the remaining $31.3 million. This clearly indicates the financial strain that illegal immigrants are imposing in the health systems in Texas (Steven, 2004).
The immigrants are also making use of emergency services rather than using the preventive Medicare. For instance utilization statistics of clinics and hospitals by illegal aliens is rated to be twice more compared to other United States citizens in Texas (Steven, 2004). This has seen the cost of Medicare for illegal aliens stagger. In 2004, it was estimated that this cost was about $85bilion per year (Steven, 2004). This reflected the fact that one of the alien cost imposed on the Texas tax payer is delivery of illegal babies. These costs are also reflected in other states in the U.S. For instance statistics reflected that in 1994, California had to cater for delivery of 74,987 babies belonging to illegal mothers with the total cost amounting to $215.2 million (Steven, 2004).
The Federal Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act provide that, hospitals be responsible for treating anyone with emergency needs if the hospitals have an emergency room services (Dweyer, 2004). This anybody includes aliens. Medical services for Americans in Texas are being affected as now hospitals with emergency rooms have to accommodate more than $200 million costs which are unreimbursed. This has seen some emergency rooms shutdown because they can not afford operating costs (Dweyer, 2004). For Americans who have appropriately paid for these services, they have to wait in long queues in hospitals offering them or they are now completely denied from accessing them. These losses resulting from overflowing of hospitals are estimated to amount to $74 million in Texas (Dweyer, 2004).
3.0 Impact of illegal immigrants in the economy of Texas.
The economic loss and benefits associated with the rising number of illegal immigrants in Texas can not be ignored. Negative economic impacts are felt in the education system, Health system, and incarceration and also in the wages of low paid workers within Texas (Steven, 2004). Revenue benefits for the government that accrue from illegal immigrants taxes such as sales taxes, health taxes and taxes imposed on items. These taxes can not be avoided. While they draw benefits to the government, their disadvantages outweigh these benefits. They have imposed congestion in education and healthcare systems. This has adversely affected the economy of Texas with some researchers terming it as a state with economic status of a third world country (Michael, 2003).
3.1 Impact on Education Costs
Due to the pressure that undocumented immigrants were putting on public education costs, in 1982, Texas law was forced to restrict local school from using public funds to educate these immigrants and districts allowed to deny accommodation to such children (D'Agostino, 2004). However in the same year this law was deemed unconstitutional and it was amended to allow such kids receive public education regardless of their legal status. Since then state school funding formulas have had to accommodate these aliens by providing $ 7,085 for any student accommodated in these schools (Steven, 2004). This has educational costs plunge up as the number of these immigrants is increasing on a daily basis with high birth rates being recorded in hospitals. In December 2006, the comptroller budget estimated that 135,00 undocumented children were enrolled in public schools in the year 2004-2005 This increased local expenditure with the government spending $7,085 per immigrant (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2006). These expenses are diversely affecting Texas economy as the government now has an added duty to ensure that these illegal immigrants in public schools are well catered for.
Undocumented immigrants also have effects on higher education programs. In 2006, students who were not citizens of Texas and were enrolled in institutions of higher learning still had to benefit from tuition fees (Michael, 2003). This has continued up to the present day as they are regarded as Texas citizens and therefore eligible to tuition fees under the provisions of Texas Education Code section 55.052 (j). With their numbers increasing, it is becoming more expensive for the federal government to cater for both the educational needs of its citizens and that of the immigrants (D'Agostino, 2004). The table below shows detailed costs that the government incurs in providing education to undocumented immigrants.
3.2 Impact on Health costs
The state and the federal are forced to fund for health benefits of illegal immigrants in Texas. These costs are likely to shift to non-profit private care health facilities and local governments. The government provides health benefits to these immigrants in three categories which include emergency Medicaid, state local programs and school based health centers (D'Agostino, 2004). Medicaid program is state funded to provide healthcare services to poor families, pregnant women and old people. According to statistics carried out in 2006, most Medicaid costs reflected the number of undocumented immigrants in Texas. More money was spent in expecting mothers and children with health care problems which belonged to a class of illegal immigrants (Steven, 2004). This has resulted into local residents who meet conditioned of getting this aid either being denied or being unable to access it due to overflowing of illegal immigrants. This is generally affecting the health system and is bound to have greater impacts in the near future.
The state is also forced to spend a lot of money in treating and rehabilitating drug users who are illegal immigrants in Texas. According to a special report released in 2006 by the comptroller, the state spent $20.2 million in 2005 in rehabilitating and treating illegal immigrant drug addicts in Texas (Steven, 2004). Texas Department of State Health Services also spent $ 17.3 million in treating illegal immigrants who were mentally ill (Steven, 2004). This clearly indicates the burden that illegal immigrants are posing on health care departments in catering for their needs at the advantage to Texas civilians. Money spent in these immigrants could otherwise be channeled to more crucial sectors of Texas' economy to help revive stable economic status.
3.3 Impact on the Fiscal budget
Illegal immigrants now have to be catered for in the fiscal budget (Steven, 2004). Their education and health systems have to be taken well care of. This has resulted into the government spending a lot of money to meet their needs. In the 2005 fiscal year alone the government had to spend over $74.8 billion in illegal immigrants (Steven, 2004). This includes taking care of the health risks that resulted from accommodating them and paying for their education. This resulted into illiterate Native Americans in Texas who earn low wages being affected since they were put in the same category with the immigrants.
4.0 Impacts of Illegal Immigrants the Rate of Crime
Illegal Immigrants are reported to commit both petty and serious offences in Texas. This has necessitated the Texas Criminal Justice System to come up with projects that are multijurisdictional to help curb the raising number of crimes committed by these immigrants. This amounts to extra costs on the government (Steven, 2004). The illegal immigrants affect all the three parts of the Texas Criminal Justice System: They affect law enforcement and prosecution, criminal trial and appeals, and also corrections. This has resulted into most officials supporting the fact that the federal government should be responsible and bear all costs arresting, prosecuting and accommodating illegal immigrants who commit crimes (Steven, 2004). This is reflected in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 which Authorizes the federal government to reimburse over $ 1.8 billion to cater for criminal justice costs which come as a result of illegal immigrants in states (Steven, 2004). This condition is pursued in the state government's endeavors to ensure that both the Texas and undocumented immigrants are subjected to a competent criminal justice system.
Statistics indicate that of the total number of those incarcerated in jail in March 2006, 11516 were those who were born in a foreign country and claimed to have acquired United States Citizenship whereas they were illegal immigrants (Steven, 2004). Texas Criminal Justice Department indicated that most of these criminals could not be deported since deportation can only take place after the criminal has finished serving sentence. Therefore, the criminal had to stay in prison to complete their sentences. This has resulted into prisons in Texas over flooding with inmates hence adding costs for the federal government. Texas only receives partial reimbursement of costs associated with accommodating illegal prisoners from the United States' Bureau of Justice Assistance (Steven, 2004). This means that Texas' taxpayers have to foot the remaining amount.
5.0 Benefits of illegal immigrants to Texas
Despite the overwhelming costs and health risks associated with illegal immigrants in Texas, they also have some advantages. The undocumented immigrants also contribute positively to the economy trough their revenues, services such as labor and buying of goods (Steven, 2004). According to statistics carried out in 2006, without the illegal immigrants in Texas the work force is bound to decrease by 6.3 percent. Therefore they also play an important role in restructuring Texas' economy since without them, the labor markets would tighten. These immigrants provide cheap readily available workforce which helps run local industries in Texas.
The immigrants also contribute to government revenues trough licenses and fees which they pay for, taxes that are incorporated in the goods and services that they purchase and other utility taxes imposed on them (Steven, 2004). These revenues contribute to the economic status of Texas. Statistic carried out in 2005 in Texas indicated that undocumented immigrants contributed about $1.0 billion revenue to the state. The table below analyzes the contribution of undocumented immigrants to the government's revenue in 2005.
The Estimated revenue of undocumented immigrants in 2005 in millions
In as much as illegal immigration is into Texas is attracting attention, both its benefits and drawbacks ought to be weighed ought carefully. The adverse impact that these immigrants have on Texas's economy can be curbed by the government authorizing them to cater for their own health and educational needs. These immigrants should not only be perceived as being a burden to the federal government and Texas authorities in general. This perception may be what is affecting their social behavior and forcing them to engage in crimes. Their positive effects ought to be considered and nurtured to bring the maximum good out of them.