Writing in the Washington Examiner, Paul Bedard lists some programs for American citizens that are seeing their funding drained in order to pay for services for illegal immigrants making their way over the border:
The Department of Health and Human Services is raiding several of its accounts, including money for Medicare, the Ryan White AIDS/HIV program and those for cancer and flu research to cover a shortfall in housing illegal youths pouring over the border at a rate of 255 a day.
HHS is trying to come up with $167 million to fund the Office of Refugee Resettlement that is accepting the youths, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. …
The money, [Policy Director Jessica Vaughan] said, pays for “shelters, health care, schooling, recreation, and other services for the new illegal arrivals, who typically were brought to the border by smugglers paid by their parents, who often are living in the United States illegally.”
I’m most definitely not one to assume that the eight specific transfers mentioned will not come from waste, and I’d rather use money that’s already been confiscated from taxpayers (or put on our massive debt tab) to provide basic necessities for poor children anywhere in the world than to fund the adult-entertainment habits of employees of the federal government (for example).
But the article is useful in framing a basic policy reality. As a point of fact, money spent on welfare and other services for illegal immigrants necessarily comes from some other expenditure, whether reducing government services for citizens or leading to more taxes.
For that matter, it’s worth reminding people that money collected through taxes, fees, and fines doesn’t just appear out of people’s bank accounts. It necessarily means the money isn’t spent on something else, especially in an era in which vanishingly few people truly keep cash lying around unused.
Even those who are willing to simply brush aside questions about the government’s right to take people’s money away to pay for things that powerful people value still have to ask whether the thing to be purchased is worth sacrificing the things not purchased. Too often, we allow government officials and their satellites to spend money as if there is no downside to doing so.