Harris County spends big bucks on people who have never paid a single dime into its health care funds and most likely never will:

The Harris County Hospital District’s unreimbursed costs of caring for illegal immigrants approached $100 million last year, a 77 percent increase in three years.

“The costs are increasing because the population of undocumented immigrants is increasing and the cost of health care is rising,” said hospital district spokesman Bryan McLeod.

The unreimbursed costs rose from $55 million in 2002 to $97 million in 2005, the hospital district said in a report released Friday. Last year’s figure represented 13 percent of the district’s $760 million operating budget.

Does anybody want to keep arguing that illegals are a net gain for the US?

Commissioner Steve Radack, who requested the report on the district’s costs of treating undocumented immigrants, said county residents are shouldering a burden created by the federal government.

The federal government doesn’t prevent illegal immigration, but hardly reimburses local counties where the immigrants most frequently settle and use public health care facilities, he said.

“The federal government allows people to come here illegally,” Radack said. “Because of that the cost shouldn’t fall on the local taxpayer.”

Yes and no. The feds do a horrible job of enforcing the border at the border, but once inside cities–like Houston–often become sanctuaries for illegals. In Houston’s case, it’s not officially a “sanctuary city” where law enforcement are forbidden by ordinance from asking about your immigration status if they suspect you might be here illegally, but blogHouston notes that Houston does have a general order in place that amounts to the same thing.

So cities have themselves to blame for much of the illegal immigration mess. The blame in fact can be spread across the entire elite caste of the country: The federal government for not enforcing the border, big business for depending on illegal labor, and cities like Houston that have made themselves sanctuaries for illegals. And as it goes with most issues, the little guy who pays his taxes and lives by the law ends up paying for it all, one way or another.

Tags: immigration