As sanctuary cities fight Trump, follow the money

As city officials pontificate on the virtues of illegal immigration and vow to defy the sanctuary city warnings from Washington, follow the money.

A few days ago, Fox News ran an exclusive about how illegal aliens cost the county of Los Angeles $1.3 billion in handouts from the taxpayers over two years.

Illegal immigrant families received nearly $1.3 billion in Los Angeles County welfare money during 2015 and 2016, nearly one-​quarter of the amount spent on the county's entire needy population, according to data obtained by Fox News.

The data was obtained from the county Department of Public Social Services – which is responsible for doling out the benefits – and gives a snapshot of the financial costs associated with sanctuary and related policies.

The sanctuary county of Los Angeles is an illegal immigration epicenter, with the largest concentration of any county ​in the nation, according to a study from the Migration Policy Institute. ​The county also allows illegal immigrant parents with children born in the United States to seek welfare and food stamp benefits.

To say the least, it's a huge amount, and it points to the extent that Los Angeles has made itself a magnet for illegal aliens.

County officials and leaders often babble on about how everyone is welcome and the county serves people "no matter where they came from," as the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, more or less put it the other day.  In other words, they do it because they are virtuous.  They do it out of the goodness of their hearts.  They do it because they are nice people.

A more astute observation from the right is that they do it to win the Latino vote, which generally goes Democrat.

But more importantly, they do it for money.

Going back to Los Angeles and its $1.3-billion fork-out to illegals, it's important to note where the lion's share of that money is actually ending up as illegals claim their benefits.

In the state of California, of which Los Angeles is a large part, most payouts to illegals go first to educate them, and then to jail them after they commit crimes, and then to pay for their medical care as they clog up emergency rooms and help themselves to Medi-Cal benefits from funds they never paid into.  Welfare itself rates a distant fourth.  The Los Angeles Times analyzes it this way:

Q: What about illegal immigrants? Could the state fix its deficit problem by cutting benefits to illegal residents?

No. State officials have estimated that services which go to California's illegal population add between $4 billion and $6 billion to state spending. The lion's share of that money goes to provide public education to children who are here illegally. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1982 that states must provide public school education to all children, regardless of citizenship, and the state has no option but to abide by that decision. The second-largest cost is for imprisoning convicts who are illegal immigrants. The budget-balancer includes an option for trying to save money by shifting those prisoners to federal custody, although past attempts to do that have failed. The third-largest cost is for medical care in emergency rooms, a portion of which is paid by the state. Federal law requires emergency rooms to treat all patients, regardless of citizenship. The state also provides welfare benefits to some U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. In 2009, state officials estimated that denying those benefits would save about $640 million, but state lawyers said the move would probably be illegal because the U.S.-born children are U.S. citizens.

That said, the welfare benefits, at $640 million (the Times figure is a few years old), or $1.3 billion over two years, in Los Angeles County today alone, are not insignificant.  Supervisor Mike Antonovich, the rare right-winger found in those parts, has decried the welfare handouts to illegals that constrain the county's budget.

If the money is going to illegals for education, jailing, medical care, and welfare, each and every one of those handouts has a bureaucrat or other county employee behind it – many, in fact, administering and delivering services.  Los Angeles County's employees are among the highest paid in the nation, and the highest payouts go to medical and prison (sheriff) officials, as this chart shows here.  More illegals, more welfare, more bureaucrats employed.  So don't imagine that cities aren't making money off the misery of illegals  as they act to succor them.  The name of the game is drawing more of them in.

What's more, federal funding is often tied to how much a county spends on whatever it spends to deliver a service.  More services, more federal funds.  As the Times describes it:

The federal government pays up to 80% of the cost of some health and welfare programs, but in return sets minimum levels of state payments. If the state cuts below those minimums, it loses federal money. Other federal laws require the state to spend money on everything from prisons to universities.

The budget has some built in assumptions about the amount of money the state government will receive from Washington. If federal aid comes in above or below that assumed amount, that will alter the deficit projection. And most importantly, the deficit fluctuates with changes in the economy. California government depends heavily on income tax receipts from upper-income residents, and those tend to be volatile. State officials will release an official update on the deficit in May, but even before then, any of those factors could shift the projections by several billion dollars although not by enough to avoid either deep spending cuts or revenue increases.

What's needed now is a comprehensive study on how much money directly and indirectly counties make on illegal immigration.  It would explain why Los Angeles and Chicago are working so hard to attract illegals, and it's not the goodness of their leaders' hearts – it's money, big money, big government expansion, rolling federal dollars, and votes for Democrats.  Think of that next time you hear some mayor, bishop, or sheriff pontificate on the virtues of succoring illegal immigration at your expense.

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