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Is illegal immigration worsening California's budget woes?

July 9, 2009 |  7:44 pm

Fixingcalifornia Many readers who have offered comments about California's budget crisis have urged officials to look at the effect of illegal immigration on the deficit.

The Times' Teresa Watanabe and Anna Gorman decided to look into the question. Here are some findings:

--State welfare officials estimate that cutting off welfare payments to illegal immigrants for their U.S.-born children could save about $640 million annually if it survives legal challenges.

--California has roughly 2.7 million illegal residents, about 7% of the state’s population. State officials estimate that they add between $4 billion and $6 billion in costs, primarily for prisons and jails, schools and emergency rooms.

--Beyond those services, the illegal population adds to the overall cost of other parts of local government, including police and fire protection, highway maintenance and libraries.

--On the other side of the ledger, illegal residents pay taxes -- sales taxes on what they buy, gasoline taxes when they fuel their cars, property taxes if they own homes. How much those taxes come to is hotly debated, although most researchers agree that the short-term costs to state and local government are bigger than the revenues.

Read their full report here. What do you think? Share your comments below.