The United States will need $1.6 trillion to repair damage to its infrastructure from a massive influx of immigrants, a new report reveals.
In his report titled, "The Twin Crises: Immigration and Infrastructure," prominent researcher Edwin S. Rubenstein examines 15 categories of infrastructure: airports, border security, bridges, dams and levees, electricity (the power grids), hazardous , hospitals, mass transit, parks and recreation facilities, ports and navigable waterways, public schools, railroads, roads and highways, solid waste and trash, and water and sewer systems.
Rubenstein, a financial analyst and former contributing editor of Forbes and economics editor of National Review, claims the nation is facing a crisis – with immigration responsible for at least 80 percent of spending needed to expand the U.S. infrastructure before the middle of this century.
"If the infrastructure crisis could be fixed by spending money, there would be no crisis," Mr. Rubenstein explained in a statement. "Since 1987, capital spending on transportation infrastructure has increased by 2.1 percent per year above the inflation rate. At $233 billion (2004 dollars), infrastructure is already one of the largest categories of government spending. Our infrastructure is 'crumbling' because population growth has overwhelmed the ability of even these vast sums to expand capacity."
While immigration policy has been hotly debated for a number of years, Rubenstein writes that its impact on infrastructure is rarely discussed.
Immigrants make up 21 percent of the school-age population in the U.S.
"In California, a whopping 47 percent of the school-age population consists of immigrants or the children of immigrants," the report states. "Some Los Angeles schools are so crowded that they have lengthened the time between classes to give students time to make their way through crowded halls. Los Angeles' school construction program is so massive that the Army Corps of Engineers was called in to manage it."
According to the U.S. Department of Education, 18 percent of all schools are considered overcrowded, and 37 percent use trailers and portable structures to accommodate growing student bodies. Public facilities are an average of 40 years old. Cities with high populations of illegal aliens are spending large amounts of their budgets on constructing new schools.
"Our anticipated gains in the number of foreign-born students alone will require us to build one elementary school a month to keep up," Miami-Dade, Fla., school Superintendent Roger Cuevas said.
Rubenstein cites a recent construction boom among the nation's hospitals. As many as 60 percent of America's hospitals are either under construction or have plans for new facilities.
"But we have a two-tier hospital system in the U.S. Hospitals in poor areas – that serve primarily uninsured immigrants and Medicaid patients – cannot afford their facilities," he writes. "The uncompensated costs are killing them. In California, 60 emergency departments (EDs) have closed to avoid the uncompensated costs of their largely illegal alien caseloads."
Illegal aliens use emergency rooms more than twice as often as U.S. citizens, and providing their uncompensated care has been the death of many emergency departments.
In 2006, more than 46 percent of illegals did not have medical insurance. Although illegal aliens are not supposed to be eligible for Medicaid, they receive Emergency Medicaid and their children are entitled to all benefits that legal immigrants receive.
Because hospitals are forced to care for Medicaid recipients, the government program never covers full costs of service. It underpaid hospitals by $11.3 billion in 2006, he wrote.
Water and electricity
Rubenstein referenced immigration trends revealing that aliens often choose to live in cities with strained water supplies – especially near the border – and their sheer numbers have made conservation efforts nearly impossible.
"Cities like San Antonio, El Paso, and Phoenix could run out of water in 10 to 20 years," he writes. San Diego's water company has resorted to a once-unthinkable option: recycling toilet water for drinking."
Due to immigration, demand for water exceeds the California State Water Project's capacity. Now Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed building a $6 billion reservoir. Approximately one-fifth of the state's electricity is tied up in collection, storage and transportation of the water.
Electric utilities are expected to require an additional $142 billion to keep generator capacity at recommended levels before 2050 due to the increasing population.
Trash left behind by illegal aliens
America's national parks are also bearing the brunt of immigration. Illegals wear roads and paths through parks.
"Their fires, trash, and vandalism have despoiled thousands of acres of pristine parkland," he writes.
According to Rubenstein, illegals leave beer, water and milk bottles, personal hygiene items and medications, clothing and shoes, food and food cans, jewelry, paper trash, sanitary pads, disposable diapers, backpacks, blankets, towels, plastic bags, homemade weapons, disintegrating toilet paper and human feces on U.S. property while they journey into the country.
They damage vegetation, leave abandoned vehicles and bicycles, spray paint trees and boulders and create campfires that turn into wildfires.
Border security costs
Costs for securing the nation's borders are expected to increase 20.6 percent in fiscal year 2009. These include expenses for border patrol, electronic surveillance, the border fence and other security needs. President Bush allocated $44.3 billion for the Department of Homeland Security – a 4.5 percent increase from last year's budget of $42.4 billion.
"While the U.S. builds a fence across much of the border, many illegals are taking a different route. Underground," Rubenstein reveals. "Authorities have discovered dozens of illegal tunnels across the international border in recent years. Smuggling of drugs, weapons, and immigrants takes place daily through these underground passageways."
Illegal aliens also use drainage systems to travel across the U.S.-Mexico border – from El Paso to San Diego.
"One tunnel, actually a system of two half-mile passages connecting Tijuana with San Diego, is by comparison a superhighway," he wrote.
While the Border Patrol attempts to stop these underground incursions with steel doors, cameras and sensors, harsh weather conditions and human smugglers destroy the equipment and barriers.
These costs, and the expenses of providing "enhanced driver's licenses" as alternative passports for citizens, RFID chips, government databases and watch lists are expected to soar.
In his research, Rubenstein finds that the average immigrant household generates a fiscal debt of $3,408 after federal benefits and taxes are considered. At the state and local level, the fiscal debt amounts to $4.398 per immigrant household.
"There are currently about 36 million immigrants living in about 9 million households, so the aggregate deficit attributable to immigrants comes to $70.3 billion," he writes. "… Immigrants could deplete the amount of funds available for infrastructure by as much as $70 billion per year."
Rubenstein cites figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, projecting that the U.S. population will reach 433 million by 2050 – increasing 44 percent, or 135 million, from today's numbers.
A full 82 percent of this increase will be directly attributable to new immigrants and their U.S.-born children.
"The brutal reality is that no conceivable infrastructure program can keep pace with that kind of population growth," he wrote. "The traditional 'supply-side' response to America's infrastructure shortage – build, build, build – is dead, dead, dead. Demand reduction is the only viable way to close the gap between the supply and demand of public infrastructure."
He concludes, "Immigration reduction must play a role."
Edwin Rubenstein's complete report, "The Twin Crises: Immigration and Infrastructure," released Jan. 13, is available here.