Listing provides statistics about the number and costs of undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles County.
Collected via e-mail, 2006
The various figures quoted above (often circulated in an e-mail forward titled “The Largest Insane Asylum in the World: California”) were not taken from a 2002 Los Angeles Times article. They appear to have been gleaned from a variety of sources and vary in accuracy as noted below:
Over 2/3’s of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal whose births were paid for by taxpayers.
The California Vital Records Department of the Department of Health Services classified as “Hispanic” the race/ethnicity of 62.7% of all
births occurring in Los Angeles county in 2001. The statistic quoted above therefore erroneously characterizes all parents of Hispanic heritage in Los Angeles County in 2001 as being “illegal alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal.”
The FBI reports half of all gang members in Los Angeles are most likely illegal aliens from south of the border.
In April 2005, Heather Mac Donald, a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims. On the issue of gang membership among illegal immigrants, she said:
No one knows for certain the percentage of illegals in gangs, thanks in large part to sanctuary laws themselves. But various estimates exist:A confidential California Department of Justice study reported in 1995 that 60 percent of the 20,000-strong 18th Street Gang in southern California is illegal; police officers say the proportion is actually much greater. The bloody gang collaborates with the Mexican Mafia, the dominant force in California prisons, on complex drug-distribution schemes, extortion, and drive-by assassinations. It commits an assault or robbery every day in L.A. County. The gang has grown dramatically over the last two decades by recruiting recently arrived youngsters, most of them illegal, from Central America and Mexico.
Note, however, that this statement references a California Department of Justice study (not an FBI report), and that it describes only a single gang in Los Angeles County (the 18th Street Gang), the gang that likely has the highest membership rate of illegal aliens.
95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.
This figure also appears (unsourced) in Heather Mac Donald’s testimony before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims:
In Los Angeles, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide in the first half of 2004 (which totaled 1,200 to 1,500) targeted illegal aliens. Up to two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) were for illegal aliens.
Even if the statistic is accurate, however, it is subject to a variety of interpretations. For example, illegal aliens might be disproportionately represented by outstanding homicide warrants in Los Angeles because they are more likely to flee the jurisdiction before their cases are adjudicated than legal residents are (not necessarily because they commit a far greater share of the homicides in Los Angeles). This interpretation is supported by a University of California Davis summary of immigration issues that notes:
The Los Angeles Police Department has a 12-year old Foreign Prosecution Unit that pursues suspects who fled the US after committing crimes in Los Angeles and gives testimony when they are prosecuted aboard. The United States does not have extradition treaties with most Latin American countries but many countries, for example, Mexico, Nicaragua or El Salvador try suspects for murder and other violent crimes committed in the US.The Foreign Prosecution Unit was founded in 1985, after a study found that nearly half of the LAPD’s outstanding arrest warrants involved Mexican nationals who were presumed to have fled the country. The FPU works with Interpol to find suspects who flee abroad and then prepares the evidence so that the person can be arrested and prosecuted. The FPU clears about one-third of its cases, compared to two-thirds of all homicide cases in Los Angeles.
The Mexican consulate in Los Angeles has a representative of the Mexican attorney general’s office to work with the FPU in prosecuting suspects in Mexico for crimes committed in Los Angeles.
75% of people on the most wanted list in Los Angeles are illegal aliens.
The Los Angeles Police Department’s “Most Wanted” list is viewable on-line, but since each entry generally includes only the ethnicity of a suspect (not his or her immigration status or nationality), and many of the entries refer to persons of unknown identity, it’s difficult to verify the claim that 75% of the people listed therein are illegal aliens.
Nearly 25% of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals here illegally.
Again, this figure appears to correspond with Heather Mac Donald’s testimony before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims:
The L.A. County Sheriff reported in 2000 that 23% of inmates in county jails were deportable, according to the New York Times.
Note, however, that the 23% figure cited includes all deportable aliens, not just Mexican nationals.
21 radio stations in L.A. are Spanish speaking.
The number of Spanish-language radio stations in Los Angeles varies a bit from source to source (and according to how one defines “Los Angeles”), but according to Los Angeles Almanac, if both AM and FM stations are counted, and all programming formats (e.g., music, news, talk, religion, sports) are included, then it’s fair to say that there are about 20 “Spanish speaking” radio stations in Los Angeles.
Less than 2% of illegal aliens are picking our crops but 29% are on welfare.
Although illegal aliens are not generally eligible to collect public welfare benefits, an illegal alien may receive benefits under the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and Food Stamps programs on behalf of his or her U.S. citizen child. (Any child born in the United States is considered a U.S. citizen, regardless of the parents’ immigration status.) A 1997 General Accounting Office (GAO) report determined that in 1995 households headed by illegal aliens received a total of $700 million in AFDC benefits and $430 million in Food Stamps.
>Over 70% of the United States annual population growth (and over 90% of California, Florida, and New York) results from immigration.
As the Sacramento Bee reported, the “over 90%” figure for population growth in California is essentially accurate if the term “immigration” is defined to encompass both foreign immigrants and births to immigrant mothers:
When Department of Finance numbers are merged with Census Bureau numbers and birth and death data collected by the state Department of Health Services are added to the mix, showing that half of all births are to immigrant mothers, the inescapable conclusion is that foreign immigration and births to immigrant mothers together comprise all of the state’s net population growth. Or, to put it another way, without foreign immigration, California would have virtually zero population growth.
The cost of illegal immigration to the American taxpayer in 1997 was a NET (after subtracting taxes immigrants pay) $70 BILLION a year, [Professor Donald Huddle, Rice University].
It is true that Rice University economist Donald Huddle has conducted studies and concluded that immigrants (both legal and illegal) in the U.S. receive billions of dollars more in social services from local, state and federal governments than they contribute in revenue. It’s also true that others have criticized his studies as flawed and arrived at exactly the opposite conclusion (i.e., that immigrants actually produce a net revenue surplus). For example, a University of California Davis Migration News article on “Illegal Immigration: Numbers, Benefits, and Costs in California” notes:
There is a great deal of disagreement over the costs and benefits of immigrants to the US and California. Studies in the early 1980s in Texas and New York concluded that the taxes paid by immigrants exceeded the cost of providing public services to them, but that the federal government got the surplus of taxes over expenditures, and local governments had deficits. Los Angeles did a study in 1992 that reinforced this conclusion.Donald Huddle of Rice University set the benchmark for today’s debate with a study that concluded that the legal and illegal immigrants who arrived since 1970 cost the US $42.5 billion in 1992, and $18.1 billion in California. According to Huddle, 7.2 million immigrants arrived legally and illegally in California since 1970, and the state incurred costs of $23 billion to provide them with services — half of the costs were for education and health care, and one-sixth were due to the costs of providing services to US residents displaced by these immigrants.
As with all such studies, Huddle made assumptions about how many illegal aliens there are, their usage of welfare and other public services, the taxes they paid, and their indirect economic impacts. Jeff Passel of the Urban Institute reviewed and revised Huddle’s US estimates, and his calculations turned the $42 billion net cost into a $29 billion net benefit.
Most of the $70 billion difference between these studies arises from their estimates of the taxes paid by immigrants — Huddle assumes that post-1970 immigrants paid $20 billion in taxes to all levels of government, and Passel assumes they paid $70 billion. And the major reason for the difference in tax estimates is that Huddle did not include the 15 percent of each worker’s earnings that are paid in Social Security taxes, while Passel did — this accounts for over one-third of the $70 billion difference.
Huddle excluded Social Security taxes because, in his view, contributions today need to be offset by the promise of benefit payments to immigrants when they retire. Passel included them because the federal government treats Social Security on a pay-as-you-go basis.
An article published by the Urban Institute drew similar conclusions:
According to the most controversial study of those discussed here, the benefits and costs of immigration to the United States in 1992 add up to a total net cost to all levels of government of $42.5 billion. This study, by Donald Huddle, was sponsored by the Carrying Capacity Network, a nonprofit group that advocates major reductions in immigration to the United States. “The Costs of Immigration” (Huddle 1993) uses estimation procedures that include a variety of errors. When these errors are corrected, the post-1970 immigrants in Huddle’s study actually show a surplus of revenues over social service costs of at least $25 billion.
The “Largest Insane Asylum in the World/California” e-mail forward first appeared in 2006 and as of early 2017, the well-worn item continued to pop up on blogs and in social media posts.
A Word to Our Loyal Readers
Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.
- David Mikkelson
- Doreen Marchionni
- David Emery
- Bond Huberman
- Jordan Liles
- Alex Kasprak
- Dan Evon
- Dan MacGuill
- Bethania Palma
- Liz Donaldson
- Vinny Green
- Ryan Miller
- Chris Reilly
- Chad Ort
- Elyssa Young
Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.
We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.
Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.