CIS: If A Border Wall Could Cut Illegal Immigration By Only 10%, It Would Pay For Itself
February 25, 2017, 01:35 PM
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Among those who oppose a border wall/fence/barrier, one argument is that it would be too expensive.

I would guess that some of these people aren’t normally concerned about the government spending money, but in the defense of the illegal invasion, any argument will do.

To counter this argument, the Center for Immigration Studies now has a useful study available on its website. It’s entitled The Cost of a Border Wall vs. the Cost of Illegal Immigration.  It’s by CIS numbers man Steven A. Camarota (February 2017) and it successfully deals with the expense argument.

Camarota’s argument is that, economically, illegal aliens are a net lifetime drain on the U.S. government budget. Therefore, any wall or barrier, even if it stopped only about 10% of them, would already pay for itself!

This goes against the conventional wisdom that illegal aliens are a great boon to our economy and that we couldn’t make it without them. But Camarota, using data from the (NAS) National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine demonstrates that the numbers don’t show that.

Here’s how the article begins:

The findings of this analysis show that if a border wall stopped a small fraction of the illegal immigrants who are expected to come in the next decade, the fiscal savings from having fewer illegal immigrants in the country would be sufficient to cover the costs of the wall. This analysis takes the likely education level of illegal border-crossers and applies fiscal estimates developed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) for immigrants by education level. NAS calculates the future fiscal balance immigrants create — taxes paid minus costs. NAS reports fiscal balances as "net present values", which places a lower value on future expenditures than on current expenditures. Based on the NAS data, illegal border-crossers create an average fiscal burden of approximately $74,722 during their lifetimes, excluding any costs for their U.S.-born children. If a border wall stopped between 160,000 and 200,000 illegal crossers — 9 to 12 percent of those expected to successfully cross in the next decade — the fiscal savings would equal the $12 to $15 billion cost of the wall.
So illegal aliens, though touted to be great economic contributors, are actual net economic drains, because of their lower levels of education. Here are the basic calculations Camarota uses to prove his point:
  • There is agreement among researchers that illegal immigrants overwhelmingly have modest levels of education — most have not completed high school or have only a high school education
  • There is also agreement that immigrants who come to America with modest levels of education create significantly more in costs for government than they pay in taxes.
  • A recent NAS study estimated the lifetime fiscal impact (taxes paid minus services used) of immigrants by education. Averaging the cost estimates from that study and combining them with the education levels of illegal border-crossers shows a net fiscal drain of $74,722 per illegal crosser.
  • If a border wall prevented 160,000 to 200,000 illegal crossings (excluding descendants) in the next 10 years it would be enough to pay for the estimated $12 to $15 billion costs of the wall.
In his usual thoroughgoing way, Camarota goes though various ways to crunch the data, with both higher and lower estimates. But the calculations always arrive to the same conclusion – illegal aliens are an economic drain to the budget and thus even a partially –successful border wall would be worth the money.

It’s important to know this, and to point out as part of the debate that 1) Illegal immigration is a net drain to our economy, and 2)Even a not-very-successful wall would be an improvement and pay for itself.

Just imagine what a very successful wall coupled with better internal enforcement would do!