Illegal Aliens:

Assessing Estimates of Financial Burden on California

HEHS-95-22: Published: Nov 28, 1994. Publicly Released: Nov 30, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the fiscal impact of illegal aliens residing in California, focusing on: (1) the Governor of California's 1994 and 1995 budget estimates for elementary and secondary education, Medicaid benefits, and adult incarceration; (2) the estimates of revenues attributable to illegal aliens; and (3) federal efforts to improve estimates of the fiscal impact of illegal aliens residing in California.

GAO found that: (1) there are limited data on California's illegal alien population's size, use of public services, and tax payments and a lack of consensus on the appropriate methodologies, assumptions, and data sources to use in estimating the costs and revenues for illegal aliens in California; (2) using the most reasonable assumptions, it adjusted California's revised estimates on the costs of elementary and secondary education and adult incarceration for illegal aliens; (3) while its overall adjusted cost estimate of $2.35 billion agreed with the state's revised estimate, the component estimates differed; (4) the estimates of revenues attributable to illegal aliens ranged from $500 million to $1.4 billion, but data limitations prevented it from judging the reasonableness of the revenue estimates; and (5) although the Urban Institute has attempted to standardize and improve states' methodologies for estimating illegal aliens' costs to the public, many differences still remain that will require further consensus.

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