The Center for Immigration Studies has conducted an analysis that shows that even if the proposed border wall between the U.S. and Mexico prevents only a small fraction of the anticipated number of illegal immigrants expected over the next few years, the savings would be enough 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, on average criminally trespassing aliens cost taxpayers $74,722 during their lifetimes (not counting the costs of any children they bear while in the U.S.).
Now if the proposed border wall stopped between 160,000 and 200,000 people from entering, the savings to the government would equal the $12 to $15 billion cost of the wall.
Newly released research by the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) done for the Department of Homeland Security indicates that 170,000 illegal immigrants crossed the border successfully without going through a port of entry in 2015. While a significant decline in crossings from a decade ago, it still means that there may be 1.7 million successful crossings in the next decade. If a wall stopped just 9 to 12 percent of these crossings it would pay for itself.
If a wall stopped half of those expected to successfully enter illegally without going through a port of entry at the southern border over the next 10 years, it would save taxpayers nearly $64 billion — several times the wall’s cost.
Keep in mind that a significant proportion of the illegal immigrants do not enter the country over the border but rather overstay their visas. In 2015, 480,000 foreign nationals came into this country and overstayed their visas, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE). The wall cannot address visa overstays.
Additionally, a large chunk of the $74,722 estimated government cost of each illegal is the responsibility of the state and local government, while the cost of building the wall (if not paid by Mexico) will be paid for by the federal government.
In the end, the border wall is only one step in securing our southern border. But insofar as it is self-financing, it’s hard to justify arguments posited by opponents.
Cross-posted at The Lid