(WND.com) The estimated cost of carrying out President Trump’s plan to build a wall on the border with Mexico continues to vary, but the fiscal and societal burdens heaped on U.S. citizens for governmental failure to take decisive action on illegal immigration is significantly costlier, border-control activists say.
One of the latest cost estimates of Trump’s U.S-Mexican border security plan – if Congress fails to approve supplemental appropriations – is the equivalent of adding $95 to $120 per U.S. household to the national debt, according to the nonpartisan nonprofit Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
The organization calculated the per-household ratio based on the $12 billion to $15 billion estimated cost of a border wall that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan jointly offered last week.
“This is about keeping Americans safe,” Ryan had said. “We are committed to working with the administration to stop the influx of illegal immigration along the southern border, protect our homeland and uphold the rule of law.
“I applaud President Trump for keeping his promise to make this a national priority.”
A debate in the subsequent week then raged in Congress, with opponents such as Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., railing against the wall and the temporary refugee ban implemented via executive order.
“Building walls on our borders and fear in our hearts will not move America forward,” Durbin said on the Senate floor. “Let’s not continue the cruelty or deception of blaming immigrants and refugees for our security and economic challenges.
“Let’s work together to build a better America for all Americans, including new Americans, no matter the color of their skin, where their parents were born, or how they pray.”
While the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget took a neutral stand on the merits of building a border wall, its president, Maya MacGuineas, exhorted federal lawmakers to ensure the endeavor is “fully paid for in the same legislation that spends the funds, either through other spending cuts or revenue increases.”
The Federation for Immigration Reform, or FAIR – a nonprofit advocate of limits on immigration – says, however, that no matter who pays for the wall, the project ultimately can be viewed as cost effective.
Citing an estimated $100 billion recurring annual burden placed on taxpayers due to the provision of services to illegal aliens and their families, FAIR President Dan Stein said in a recent USA Today op-ed, “Even at the high end of the one-time cost estimate for constructing a wall, in the $15 billion and $25 billion range, the structures are cheap at twice the price.”
A widely cited FAIR report published in 2013 claims illegal immigrants could cost taxpayers $113 billion annually, an amount adjusted to $99 billion after factoring estimated taxes paid by illegals.
President Trump during his election campaign cited the $113 billion FAIR figure, leading to a PolitiFact analysis of it.
Although PolitiFact acknowledged it’s “difficult to determine exact costs of a population for which only estimates are available,” without attempting to explicitly refute the numbers it claimed Trump’s FAIR-based claim as “largely false.”
A recent Congressional Research Service, or CRS, report points to slow but steady progress in joint U.S.-Mexican efforts, known as the Mérida Initiative, to reform Mexico’s criminal justice while combating transnational criminal organizations and cross-border drug and human trafficking.
Mexico, however, continues to be “the main foreign supplier to the U.S. market of heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana,” CRS said in its January 2017 report, “U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond.”
“It remains a major transit country for cocaine sold in the United States.”
Additionally, from 2010 to 2015, U.S. seizures of methamphetamine increased 305 percent at the southwest border, while the amount of heroin seized there more than doubled, according to the report, which the Federation of American Scientists obtained and has made available.
“Surging U.S. demand has fueled increasing opium cultivation and heroin production in Mexico, as well as drug trafficking-related violence in areas where groups are vying to control production,” the report said.
The George W. Bush Administration in 2007 launched the Mérida Initiative, for which Congress then appropriated more than $2.6 billion from FY2008 to FY2016. The FY2017 budget request under Barack Obama included $129 million for the initiative, while a House measure – for which the 114th Congress did not complete action – sought an additional $20 million.
Among the endeavor’s “four pillars” is “creating a 21st century border,” which extends some of the initiative’s focus from illegal migration and cross-border crime to the potential risk that cross-border commercial trade likewise poses to the U.S.
“Another issue policymakers may confront regarding the strengthening of the Southwest border is how to prevent the corruption of U.S. and Mexican border officials,” the report suggested.
It noted that 144 employees of Customs and Border Patrol, or CBP, from FY2005 to FY2012, “were arrested or indicted for corruption-related activities and 65 percent of them were stationed along the Southwest border.”
CRS acknowledged that the agency has stepped up efforts to increase transparency on the matter, including a 2016 CBP Integrity Advisory Council report that recommended the creation of Border Corruption Task Forces.
“To date, the 21st century border pillar has not directly addressed the issue of corruption,” CRS said in the report.
“Congress may consider whether preventing, detecting, and prosecuting the corruption of border enforcement personnel should be a component of the border programs funded by the Mérida Initiative.”
Despite the efforts of U.S. and Mexican officials via the initiative – and a decade after the Mexican government initiated a military-led crackdown against drug traffickers and organized criminal organizations – “violent crime continues to threaten citizen security and governance in parts of Mexico, including in cities along the U.S. Southwest border.”
This violence, according to the report, “may have claimed more than 100,000 lives since December 2006.”
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