So we should probably stop thinking of them as leeches.
Last year a nonpartisan research group, The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, did a study on undocumented immigrants' state and local tax contributions in the United States, and what they discovered is impressive. In 2012, undocumented immigrants paid $11.84 billion in state and local taxes. That's more money than most people will earn in their life. And that's just immigrants who are not living or working here legally- the same people that politicians are threatening to forcibly deport.
Ok, but aren't they costing us money???
Sure. It costs a lot of money to maintain the inhumane detention centers, some estimates suggest $5 million dollars per DAY, and the profits go directly to the private sector instead of to the public. But in terms of welfare programs like food stamps? Not so much. Most welfare programs require proof of immigration status, including food stamps, cash welfare, Medicaid, and state health care (via). Several studies have found that use of welfare programs in legal immigrant households was not significantly higher than the rest of the population (49% of households vs 30%), and they suggest that undocumented immigrants are receiving food stamps not for themselves, but for their children, who are citizens.
There are an estimated 4 million U.S. citizens whose parents are undocumented, which might sound like a lot, but since Food Stamps amount to about $1.50 per day they're not exactly overwhelming our national budget- and these recipients are only being treated differently because of their parents' immigration status. (In 2012, the American taxpayer making $50,000 per year only paid $36 dollars towards the food stamps program- via).
Nor is it a fiscally responsible one.
Undocumented immigrants didn't pay $11.84 billion in taxes as a generous donation to the American government- they paid it the same way everyone else did. It's getting taken out of their paychecks, they're paying directly as homeowners or indirectly as renters, and they're paying it in sales taxes. However you feel about undocumented immigrants, they are a part of our economy. And while there are plenty of humane ways to look at the immigration issue, being humane has failed to change people's minds or challenge the way we discuss undocumented immigration. So let's look at the issue as a fiscal one: Undocumented immigrants are stimulating the economy. The financial burden comes from detention centers where private companies are leeching government funds, not from social programs.