How many illegal immigrants are there in Idaho and what is their cost to the Idaho taxpayer? Experts say determining how many illegal aliens are currently residing in the state is difficult.
According to sources interviewed by the Idaho Freedom Foundation, those estimates range as low as 40,000 and as high as more than 100,000. And, according to the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform (FAIR), the estimated cost to Idaho taxpayers, even if the number is as low as 40,000, is $195 million.
Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden, introduced an immigration reform bill during the 2010 session, but it was defeated in the Senate State Affairs Committee on a 7-2 vote. The bill was SB 1303. Despite losing his primary bid for re-election, Jorgenson said he doesn’t think the issue is going to go away.
In researching the bill, Jorgenson said the number of illegals is difficult to determine. “Number one, they’re illegal, so no one has an accurate count. I would say it’s a safe bet that the number is somewhere in excess of 80,000.” On Jorgenson’s website he cites 2005 numbers from the Pew Hispanic Research Center, which estimated there were 25,000-40,000 illegal aliens in the state.
He also said the Idaho Dairymen’s Association (IDA) has admitted to as many as 40,000 illegals working in that industry alone, but that organization could not be reached for comment. However, on its website, the IDA makes no secret of supporting “immigration reform” that many critics would call amnesty.
A number of national groups, such as Numbers USA, the Center for Immigration Studies and the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform (FAIR) publish estimates of the number of illegals in Idaho. But Bob Dane, communications director with FAIR, says his group estimates on the side of caution. “You can see estimates ranging upwards of 30 million, but there’s no basis for that. Using Census figures, we take the foreign-born (numbers), then back out (the number of) naturalized citizens and legal permanent residents, and you have your illegal alien population.”
Based on that methodology, Dane said FAIR has come up with a figure of 40,000 illegal aliens in Idaho, using 2000 Census numbers. Still, he said the recession and high unemployment of the last couple of years has probably caused the illegal population in America to drop slightly. “There has been some self-deportation. So, many groups are using conservative figures of 10 ½ to 13 million (illegals in the U.S.A.).” In fact, the Department of Homeland Security is estimating a total number of 10.7 million illegal aliens currently residing in the nation.
While his organization’s numbers are admittedly conservative, Dane thinks it doesn’t do any good to inflate them for the sake of shock value. “Of the 13 million illegal aliens (in the U.S.A), 7 ½ million of them continue to occupy jobs. There are 25 million Americans right now that are either unemployed or are working part-time when they don’t want to be. If you got rid of 7 ½ million illegal aliens in the workplace, you’d free up that many jobs for Americans without deporting anyone.” FAIR is on the record as opposing any form of mass deportation.
Dane said one way to accomplish that would be to require employers to use the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s e-Verify system. Meanwhile, FAIR has been working on a project to determine the financial impact of illegals on the economies of all 50 states. The report has not yet been released, but Dane did say his organization estimates illegal immigration costs the taxpayers of Idaho $195 million per year, an increase from $84 million in 2005.