Sandy devastation triggers debate over relief for illegals

In the aftermath of the destruction left by Hurricane Sandy, which hit the Northeast a few weeks ago, a new and pressing issue has emerged concerning the rights of illegal immigrants and federal aid. Recent reports by NPR and the New York Daily News show that illegal immigrants in the United States are unable to access financial aid to help with rebuilding and cleanup. These news organizations advocate for the government to give relief to illegal immigrants as well as legal citizens.

While the stories of these illegal immigrants are touching and even sad, they raise a bigger question: should the United States government be expected to assist illegal immigrants with financial aid during a crisis?

Although some illegal immigrants might have jobs or even legal children, the federal government should not be expected to help those who have broken the laws of the United States. Illegal immigrants do not pay full taxes on their income, but they still enjoy free education, healthcare and other benefits that American citizens pay for in tax dollars.

A study on the economic effects of illegal immigrants by the Center for Immigration Studies finds that $11-22 billion in federal funds are spent annually on illegal immigrant welfare checks. With a giant budget deficit already causing economic woes for the federal government, the expectation that illegal immigrants should be given extra money is neither realistic nor fair to legal American citizens.

The idea that illegal aliens should not receive relief might seem harsh, but due to generous businesses and donations by people around the world, these illegal immigrants still have options in finding relief. The American Red Cross reported that an estimated $128 million has been donated to Sandy victims, and this aid is available to all people affected by the hurricane.

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said earlier this week that repairing the damage from the hurricane will cost around $32 billion. The staggering amount of money needed for Sandy relief should further curb the idea of free government handouts. In the end, illegal immigrants will still benefit from some of the aid in ways such as clean streets and working electrical grids, but they should not be the recipients of free, direct handouts from the United States government.