From: John Thompson [Email him]
I read Washington Watcher's article with keen interest, partly because it relates closely to things that I have written. the technique of giving inflated estimates of how much it would cost to deport illegal aliens has been a staple of the mainstream press for months. The figure that he gives is on the low side, I have seen estimates as high as $600 billion.
These numbers are thrown out as if they provide conclusive proof that forced deportation makes no fiscal sense. In fact, it would cost something to deport illegal aliens as it would to implement any government policy. The serious question (at least from the fiscal side) is whether this action would be expensive than the alternative.
In fact, the alternative is to allow the illegals to remain in the country which is extremely expensive because illegals receive large amounts of cash expenditure while paying minimal taxes. According to Richwine and Rector, allowing the illegals to remain would cost $3 trillion over their lifetimes. [The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer, Heritage Foundation, May 6, 2013] If we were to give them amnesty, as under the Gang of Eight bill, the cost would rise to $4 trillion.
So, the cost of deporting illegals ranges from 5% of the cost of keeping them to as high as 15% (assuming the highest cost of deportation and the lowest use of welfare benefits.) When the best figure, your opponents can muster is at least almost 7 times more expensive than the cost of deportation, your opponents they do not have a very convincing argument. If confronted with numbers like these, they will stop talking about numbers.
In this connection, you may be interested in the article that I published the Summer 2016 Social Contract magazine: Reframing the Immigration Debate - A proposal for compensated repatriation of unlawful immigrants. I agree with just about everything else you said, but in my proposed scheme, we would provide positive incentives including cash payments for voluntary departure.
John Thompson, a Boston-based consultant on economics and finance, is a member of the Massachusetts Coalition for Immigration Reform (MCIR).