Skilled workers seeking entry to America are frustrated by the immigration system’s low levels of work permits. In May, despite a nationwide shortage of trained health workers, the State Department announced that it was putting a freeze on visas for foreign nurses coming into the country, blaming a huge backlog of applications for work visas. Skilled immigrants applying for U.S. work permits have grown so discouraged that many have tried to immigrate to other countries. Recognizing the opportunity, Canada recently began trying to lure immigrants who hold specialized U.S. work visas by offering them easy entry and the promise of a smoother path to permanent residency than they face in America. Congressional attempts to increase the number of specialized worker visas and make it easier for these individuals and their families to obtain permanent U.S. residency, meantime, have stalled—a testament to the low priority that many elected officials and advocacy groups have placed on sensibly reforming our immigration system.
The kinds of migrants arriving recently, by contrast, have few resources and need to be cared for. Late last year, California’s Newsom estimated that his state had expended more than $1 billion merely to provide health screenings and shelter for asylum seekers. “With the respect to the federal government, we’ve been doing their job for the last few years,” Newsom said. The stark reality for states and cities is that, short of some unlikely mass-deportation program that sends most of the recent arrivals back across the border, the real cost of this staggering illegal-immigration surge on the public purse of American cities and states is yet to come.
The other costs of the illegal migration:
Texas launched Operation Lone Star in early 2021, for example, spending an eye-popping $4.5 billion in the first two years of the program. So far, Texas officials say, the operation has caught 376,000 illegal border crossers, arrested 28,000 individuals suspected of other crimes, and seized more than 400 million doses of fentanyl.
Virginia sent about 100 National Guard members to the southern border to boost security. Cost: $3 million monthly. Arkansas and South Dakota were among the other states providing National Guard border deployments; Iowa, Ohio, Nebraska, and Florida sent state law-enforcement officers. Earlier this year, Florida increased its border task force in Texas to more than 1,100 National Guard and state police personnel, accompanied by state aircraft, drones, and boats.
California, working with federal law enforcement, launched Operation Blue Lotus, seeking to impede the supply of illegal drugs coming across the border into the Golden State and poisoning the streets of San Francisco and other cities. In less than two months, state and federal agents seized about 6,500 pounds of fentanyl and related drugs and arrested approximately 200 smugglers and dealers.
Texas against the Biden administration after it froze deportations of illegals, the state listed $850 million of extraordinary costs due to illegals—including more than $579 million annually at public hospitals for uncompensated medical care and more than $30 million in prenatal care. Texas also reported spending about $150 million a year on incarcerating criminal migrants, and up to $63 million to educate unaccompanied immigrant minors now domiciled in the state.
Florida faces similar pressures. Hospitals delivered $312 million in uncompensated health services to a total of 111,475 illegals in 2020, and another $340 million to treat a similar number in 2021. Births to illegal-immigrant mothers are one of the biggest burdens on Florida’s health-care system. In 2019, one study estimated, Florida hospitals delivered nearly 9,200 babies to uninsured illegals, with an average price tag of $5,359 per birth. The same study estimated that the state was also spending $1.6 billion yearly on public school education for the children of illegals.