How much does the government have to spend for each new immigrant who comes to the United States? Let's do the math.
I was trying to figure it out from the original government documents, but then I discovered the website usgovernmentspending.com which has figures pretty close to what I was getting, so I'll just go with this easier source.
Total spending at all levels of government is $4.894 trillion in FY 2007. If we subtract out defense spending and interest payments, because neither seem directly related to population, we are left with total spending of $3.918 trillion.
According to the U.S. Census, current U.S. population is 302 million. Thus, marginal per capita spending is $12,973. Each new immigrant to the U.S. causes an additional $12,973 of spending.
Not all immigrants work. Some immigrants are children, and some immigrants are too old to work. According to the Department of Labor, total employment is 146.1 million. In other words, less than half of the population works. Let's call it an even 50% for our calculations. If the same holds true for the immigrant workforce (who have more children than American workers), then there is $25,946 of government spending per immigrant worker. Lets call it $26,000.
The real number may be off by a few thousand in one direction or the other, but it's certainly in the correct order of magnitude. The typical immigrant worker causes an extra $26,000 in government spending.
That minimum wage immigrant doing work that "Americans won't do" no longer seems like such a bargain. Assuming the immigrant works 40 hours per week for $5.85/hour, he earns $12,168/year. Some FICA and income taxes are taken out of his salary, but it's unlikely that he's paying much more than $3,000/year in taxes. Thus the net subsidy per unskilled minimum wage worker is $23,000/year. For every $5.85 paid to the immigrant worker, your tax dollars are contributing an additional $11.06.
People will point out that $11.06 is the worst case scenario. What about the immigrant working 60 hours per week for $8 per hour? His hourly subsidy is maybe only $6.40 per hour.
Whatever the exact number is, with this analysis it becomes clear that each unskilled immigrant worker imposes a significant externality upon the taxpayer. I am sure that if businesses were taxed properly for this externality, they wouldn't be so eager to hire immigrant labor. An American worker would be preferable to an immigrant worker with a real ecoomic cost of $16/hour.