Re­port: Il­le­gals to cost tax­pay­ers $750 bil­lion

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN DINAN

Study shows amount more than six times the de­por­ta­tion costs.

De­port­ing the coun­try’s es­ti­mated 11 mil­lion il­le­gal im­mi­grants would cost nearly $125 bil­lion, but al­low­ing them to re­main in the U.S. could cost tax­pay­ers far more, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port be­ing re­leased Thursday by a think tank that wants to see stricter im­mi­gra­tion lim­its.

Steven A. Ca­marota, re­search di­rec­tor at the Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies, crunched the num­bers and found that the cur­rent pop­u­la­tion of il­le­gal im­mi­grants will drain nearly $750 bil­lion from tax­pay­ers over their life­times — amount­ing to six times the de­por­ta­tion costs.

“Some­times peo­ple say look, we couldn’t de­port ev­ery­body be­cause it’s pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive,” Mr. Ca­marota said. “But if your only con­cern is fis­cal cost, it’s pretty clear that let­ting them stay is a hell of a lot more ex­pen­sive.”

The re­searcher said he doesn’t ac­tu­ally sup­port a mass de­por­ta­tion of all il­le­gal im­mi­grants, but said it’s im­por­tant to spark a con­ver­sa­tion about costs and ben­e­fits as Pres­i­dent Trump vows to step up re­movals of il­le­gal im­mi­grants who al­ready in the U.S.

The crux of Mr. Ca­marota’s anal­y­sis is the na­ture of il­le­gal im­mi­grants, who are far more likely to be low-skilled, lesse­d­u­cated work­ers than the na­tive-born pop­u­la­tion. Though they also don’t have ac­cess to some ser­vices and ben­e­fits re­served for cit­i­zens and le­gal res­i­dents, they do get other ben­e­fits, such as ed­u­ca­tion.

A re­port last year by the Na­tional Academy of Sciences helped put a dol­lar fig­ure on the life­time costs and ben­e­fits of im­mi­grants, based on lev­els of ed­u­ca­tion.

Mr. Ca­marota ad­justed that study for il­le­gal im­mi­grants and con­cluded that those with ad­vanced de­grees are a $424,000 boon to the U.S. over their life­time, but those who dropped out of high school are a $173,000 drain. Over­all, it works out to a net cost to tax­pay­ers of nearly $63,000 per il­le­gal im­mi­grant.

Alex Nowrasteh, an im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy an­a­lyst at the Cato In­sti­tute, said that may not take into ac­count the age of ar­rival. If an im­mi­grant with less than a high school ed­u­ca­tion ar­rives be­fore age 24, he can of­ten end up hav­ing a pos­i­tive ef­fect for tax­pay­ers, the an­a­lyst said.

Mr. Ca­marota’s study also fo­cused only on fis­cal cal­cu­la­tions and did not ac­count for eco­nomic ef­fects such as how the drop in mil­lions of low-skilled work­ers would af­fect cer­tain in­dus­tries, and thus Amer­i­cans’ wages and prices they pay.

A study last year by the Amer­i­can Ac­tion Fo­rum con­cluded that de­port­ing all il­le­gal im­mi­grants and stop­ping unau­tho­rized new­com­ers would sap the econ­omy of $1 tril­lion.

The AAF also said the costs of de­port­ing the uni­verse of il­le­gal im­mi­grants would take 20 years and cost $100 to $300 bil­lion — po­ten­tially much higher than Mr. Ca­marota’s as­sump­tions.

The AAF said the high es­ti­mate would hap­pen if ICE has to send its fugi­tive op­er­a­tions teams out to ar­rest all of the il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

Mr. Ca­marota, though, took the aver­age dol­lar amount for de­por­ta­tions in 2016 and put the cost at $10,854 per per­son, or $124.1 bil­lion for the 11 mil­lion to­tal. Us­ing num­bers from 2012, when au­thor­i­ties set a record for de­por­ta­tions while spend­ing less, the to­tal came to un­der $6,000 per de­por­ta­tion, or $67.6 bil­lion for the to­tal pop­u­la­tion.

De­por­ta­tions have ticked up un­der Pres­i­dent Trump, but the rise of sanc­tu­ary cities and of mi­grants choos­ing to fight their cases every step of the way in im­mi­gra­tion courts is mak­ing each de­por­ta­tion more ex­pen­sive as well.

Mr. Trump has asked for a surge in new de­ten­tion beds to hold il­le­gal im­mi­grants, and for 1,000 new of­fi­cers next year to boost the de­por­ta­tion force.

Act­ing Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment Di­rec­tor Thomas Ho­man told The Washington Times last week that his agency won’t sur­pass the 2012 record for de­por­ta­tions this year, but “we’re go­ing to get there” in the fu­ture.

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