‘The key questions are the cost of each illegal immigrant, and the number of illegal crossers, vs. the cost of a wall…’
(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) With the partial government shutdown now in its third week, President Donald Trump and congressional Democratic leaders remain deadlocked over funding for a southern border wall.
The wall’s proposed cost of $5 billion would constitute 0.11 percent of the 2019 federal budget.
But a new analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies, a pro-legal immigration research institute, shows that a wall along the Mexican–American border would actually pay for itself.
Steve Camarota, the director of research at the Center and the author of the recent analysis, said, “While it is true that more illegal immigrants come through overstayed visas than through our southern border, the reality is that even if a border wall reduced just a tiny fraction of illegal crossings, it would pay for itself.”
The research indicates that to pay for the Trump’s $5 billion funding request, the wall would have to prevent only about 60,000 crossings—or just 3 to 4 percent of expected illegal border-crossers over the next decade, assuming current crossing statistics are accurate and they remain relatively constant for years to come.
By the numbers, Camarota said the wall could be considered an investment, where the project should be measured by its returns.
“A border wall in areas where it is needed, combined with broadly popular enforcement measures such as E-Verify and the closing of asylum loopholes, would effectively curb illegal immigration and secure America’s porous borders,” he said.
A previous analysis considered the likely education level of illegal southern border crossers—and their children—and applied taxpayer estimates needed to support them, as determined by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
The average lifetime taxpayer costs per illegal border crosser are estimated to be between $74,722 and $82,191 in 2018 dollars. When including their children the net fiscal drain jumps to a range of $94,391 to $103,826.
Considering that there are about two border apprehensions for every successful illegal crossing, according to data compiled by the Institute for Defense Analysis, that means as many as 200,000 illegal immigrants crossed the southern border last year, based on government reports of 400,000 border apprehensions.
At roughly the current rate, it’s assumed that 1.7 million to 2 million more illegals will successfully enter the United States over the next 10 years. But a decrease in just 60,000 illegals due to Trump’s wall would save taxpayers the $5 billion in wall’s up-front construction costs.
Of course, it’s likely that the wall would prevent far more illegal crossings than 60,000 over 10 years, or 3 to 4 percent, and thus return a net taxpayer surplus.
“When asking whether a border wall can pay for itself, the key questions are the cost of each illegal immigrant, and the number of illegal crossers, vs. the cost of a wall,” Camarota concluded.