Hoever: Why is cost of illegal immigration being hidden?


Thomas Hoever is a resident of Magnolia.

On March 18, I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to Gov. John Carney, asking for the number of noncitizens in Delaware and what was spent last year and what is budgeted for this year for them. The governor responded back to me May 17, withholding any records and citing privacy and executive privilege. It took two months to say, “We will not tell you!” I am not sure how he can say that what is expensed in the state budget is either private or executive privilege.

The U.S. census has 98,000 persons born outside the U.S. living in Delaware in 2023. It does not break out how many came legally and how many came here illegally. The American Immigration Council website does say that, in 2016, there were 30,000 undocumented immigrants in Delaware. Since I have been unable to get any concrete numbers, let’s assume that, currently, Delaware has 50,000 undocumented immigrants. Per the immigration department website, it takes two to seven months for an undocumented immigrant seeking asylum to receive an employment authorization document if they request one and wish to work. It appears as though, if they are not seeking asylum, they cannot legally receive this document and cannot work.

My question is, how are these people surviving? Who is paying to feed, clothe and house these people? I think we all know that it is the Delaware taxpayer. I do not know what our current welfare programs pay but, estimating low, let’s say these people are getting $2,000 a month. That comes out to $50 million a month if only half (25,000) are receiving benefits! This doesn’t even include food stamps and other available programs. Can Delaware afford $50 million a month? I am all for legal immigration, but this is unsustainable.

I have asked some of our legislators what the state expensed last year and what it has budgeted this year, and the response has been that they are not aware of any line items in the budget that show that. My response would be that they probably wouldn’t because they just increased the budget for these social programs without identifying exactly who is receiving the benefits.

Our school budgets have been rising dramatically the last couple of years, and I would argue that it is due to the influx of undocumented immigrants. We all know the strain on our hospital and health care systems.

We have veterans panhandling in the streets of Delaware and living homeless, while we are giving all these benefits to people who broke our laws and came here illegally. Think of the programs we could have with $50 million a month for veterans and homeless individuals in Delaware. Think about what we could do for our underserved urban communities in Delaware with $50 million a month. I am sure Wilmington could really use that money to help the people living there. There is only so much money. Do we really want to give it to people who broke our laws and came here illegally, and not take care of our own citizens who are hurting?

Regardless of your position on immigration, I think we can all agree that taxpayers have a right to know where the money is going and to whom! Executive privilege or privacy is not an answer to how taxpayer money is expensed, and Gov. Carney needs to be held accountable.

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