Iowans for Tax Relief: Curb illegal immigration; curb state spending

By: Ed Failor, Jr., President of Iowans for Tax Relief

In less than one month, the Iowa Legislature will return to Des Moines for the 2010 Legislative Session, and lawmakers will face the largest budget gap in state history, adding up to more than one billion dollars. How Governor Culver and our Legislators choose to manage this financially devastating budget mess will shape our state for years to come. It is time to look at every single area of state spending.

Illegal immigration is a very controversial topic in our state; it is also an issue which has a financial cost to Iowa taxpayers. A 2007 Issue Review by the Legislative Services Agency estimates the total cost of 70,000 illegal immigrants to the State General Fund at $107.4 million. Of those 70,000 illegal immigrants, 60,200 are adults and 9,800 are children. This report estimates each illegal immigrant receives a benefit from the state of $1,534.

The volunteer-driven Toys for Tots program asks parents when registering for their program for; a picture ID, Social Security number of the parent, proof of home address, and children's birth certificate. On the other hand, parents enrolling their children in Iowa schools must only present some type of proof of the child's birth date, guaranteeing the child is the appropriate school age.There is no requirement on parents to confirm they are legal residents. It is unfortunate to see our public school system, funded through our tax dollars, has fewer requirements than enrolling a child in a charitable program. I recommend requiring all parents enrolling their children in Iowa public schools to provide the same documentation to the school as the Toys for Tots program requires for registration.

To achieve state cost reduction, if parents are unable to show documentation proving they are legal residents, authorities would then take the appropriate steps to enforce the law on the parents only. The parents are the individuals who are committing a crime by living here illegally. There would then be two options for the parent to make on behalf of their children. The first option would permit the children only to remain in Iowa and be educated in our public school system. The second option would return the whole family to their country of origin. Using the data from the 2007 Issue Review, by ending benefits to only adult illegal immigrants, there would be a taxpayer savings of $92.3 million.

Our state is in a fiscal crisis, and a continued careful and thorough examination of how our tax dollars are spent is necessary. Every Iowan knows, the financial status quo is no longer acceptable, and difficult decisions need to be made. Not all spending reductions are easy, but a budget gap of the magnitude our Legislators will face in January demands difficult policy changes. Requiring all parents to show proof of legal residency upon school enrollment will begin to reduce some of the costs to Iowa taxpayers.

State leaders need to remember there is no magical government money tree - every dime state government takes in is collected from Iowans. If our leaders are serious about reducing the state budget, they should do so by avoiding the fiscal costs of illegal immigration and enforce the law.

Press Contact: Katie Koberg, (563) 288-3600 or