FIRST ON FOX: The number of illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. since President Biden took office will cost the U.S. taxpayer over $20 billion each year, according to a new analysis by a hawkish immigration group.
The study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which advocates for lower levels of immigration overall, calculates that the illegal immigrants who have entered the U.S. since Jan. 2021 will add an extra $20.4 billion burden a year, in addition to the $140 billion existing illegal immigrants already cost.
The analysis is based on an estimated 1.3 million released into the U.S. by immigration officials, as well as approximately one million "gotaways" -- or illegal immigrants who have slipped past overwhelmed agents. FAIR calculates that each illegal immigrants costs $9,232 a year to support.
The U.S. has been in the midst of a massive border crisis since early 2021, with more than 1.7 million migrant encounters in FY 2021, and more than two million in FY 2022 so far. While many of those encounters are repeat encounters, and nearly half are removed under Title 42 public health protections, a considerable number are released into the U.S. for asylum hearings.
DHS sources told Fox News that there have been more than 500,000 "gotaways" into the U.S. this fiscal year until July, making at least 900,000 gotaways in FY 21 and 22.
FAIR, which calls for stricter border controls as part of a range of broader immigration reforms, laid out the money the estimated $20.4 billion could be spent on instead -- including providing every homeless veteran in the U.S. $50K a year for the next 10 years.
The money, the analysis says, could also hire 330,000 teachers, fund and expand the National School Lunch Program, provide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to more than 7 million extra families or provide every family earning less than $50K a year a $410 grocery voucher.
It could also construct the entire wall at the southern border -- a project that began under the Trump administration.
"Even in an age in which trillion dollar spending packages and are considered modest, the additional $20.4 billion the Biden Border Crisis has heaped onto the backs of American taxpayers is still staggering," Dan Stein, president of FAIR, said in a statement. "$20.4 billion could address some very important needs of the American public, instead of covering the costs of the surge of illegal migration triggered by this administration’s policies."
The analysis comes amid continued conservative and Republican criticism of the Biden administration’s border policies -- which they have blamed for fueling the crisis by encouraging migrants to make the journey north. They argue that the policies have made it easier for migrants to enter the U.S. and be released, while simultaneously reducing interior enforcement.
The Biden administration has stressed that it is seeking to solve the "root causes" of the crisis, like poverty, violence and corruption in Central America. It has touted additional funding for Homeland Security as well as a recent anti-smuggling operation, while claiming its interior enforcement focuses on immediate threats to public safety and national security.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who is leading diplomatic outreach to combat root causes, defended the Biden administration’s policies on Sunday -- and claimed that the border is "secure," while calling for amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants.
"I think that there is no question that we have to do what the president and I asked Congress to do, the first request we made: pass a bill to create a pathway to citizenship," Harris said on "Meet the Press." "The border is secure, but we also have a broken immigration system, in particular, over the last four years before we came in, and it needs to be fixed."
Fox News’ Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report.