Republicans, especially their presidential candidates, seem unified in their desire to rid the country of illegal immigrants. Yes, I know, they are only in favor of this in order to get votes from their troglodyte base, but it still would be helpful for someone to look into what it would take in order to actually remove every undocumented worker from our country.
Well, someone has done this. A center-right think tank did the work and here are their numbers. As a preface, I admit that anyone can argue with their numbers, but only if they present some actual facts that disagree with their numbers.
“The cost to remove the entire undocumented immigrant population in the U.S. and prevent future unlawful immigration over the next 20 years is $400-600 billion.” One can hardly imagine that it would cost much less. Can you even imagine the effort it would take to track down all the illegal aliens and deporting them? This cost only includes what it would take to “apprehend, detail, legally process, and transport the immigrants, plus the ongoing price to keep additional undocumented immigrants out of the U.S.” The true cost would probably be even higher, as there would be no money spent on prevention, such as the cost of “finishing the border fence, drastically increasing the number of ICE and Border Patrol officers, building additional detention facilities, and addressing the years-long immigration court backlog.”
Now here’s the interesting part: That would not be the most costly thing. Their (conservative) estimates are that even if we could magically remove every illegal immigrant from the US at no cost, there would be a tremendous hit to the economy. The real GDP would decline by $1.6 trillion.
What’s ironic about this is that people want to deport illegal immigrants because “they are stealing our jobs”. But if we actually deported them, we would lose far more jobs because of the economic hit.
Indeed, the same report says that reducing legal (not illegal) immigration in order to “protect” American workers would actually hurt American workers more than it would help.
I’ve always said I’m a pragmatist. I’m tired of people blaming our problems on immigrants (illegal or otherwise). (If we want to deport someone, how about if we start with the bankers who caused the Great Recession?)
Seriously, let’s have some proposals for immigration reform that increases legal immigration and focuses on skills. That would benefit our economy and not waste money on stupid border walls.