A study shows that President Trump’s southern border security wall would save American taxpayers far more than it would cost.
The analysis comes from Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies, who pointed out that the key issues are the cost of each illegal immigrant compared to the cost of a wall.
“Making reasonable estimates of these factors allows us to calculate what share of future illegal border-crossers the wall would have to stop or deter from trying to enter in order for the wall to be cost-effective. This updated analysis indicates that to pay for the president’s $5 billion wall request, a wall would have to prevent about 60,000 crossings – or 3 to 4 percent of expected illegal crossers in the next decade,” he said.
“If we make much more conservative assumptions about both the cost of illegal immigrants and future flows, it still shows that a wall would have to stop or deter only a modest percentage of illegal crossings to pay for itself.”
He quoted figures from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine for the costs of immigrants by education level, excluding their children.
“These estimates indicated an average lifetime net fiscal cost of $74,722 per illegal crosser – $82,191 in 2018 dollars,” he said.
And the Institute for Defense Analyses estimates about 1.95 to 2.28 apprehensions for every successful illegal crossing.
“This translates to about 170,000 to 200,000 successful illegal crossings in 2018, or 1.7 million to two million over the next 10 years, assuming this level continues,” he said.
That means “the wall would have to stop or deter 3 to 4 percent (60,000) of the future illegal crossers over the next decade to pay for itself.”
The study pointed out that those who cross the border illegally join those in the United States who overstay their visas, and a wall would not address those costs.
Further, he said, a “large share of the net fiscal cost of illegal immigrants is at the state and local level, not the federal level.”
“The costs of building the wall will be borne by the federal government,” he said.
“This analysis does not measure the effectiveness of a wall, but instead only demonstrates the share of future crossers a wall would need to stop in order to offset its cost,” he explained. “These cost estimates, based on the NAS research, only include original illegal immigrants, not their children and grandchildren. In our prior analysis, we found that if the cost of descendants is included, then the net fiscal drain raises to $94,391 – $103,826 in 2018 dollars.”
He said the results were calculated by applying the average net fiscal impact — taxes paid minus costs — of immigrants by education from a NAS study to the education level of illegal border-crossers.
That results in a figure of $74,722 for each illegal alien, excluding costs of U.S.-born children.
The figures from the NAS study are in 2012 dollars and converting them to 2018 dollars would raise them to $82,191, the study explained.
“This estimate means that for every 100,000 illegal immigrants prevented from crossing illegally, it would save taxpayers $8.2 billion over the illegal immigrants’ lifetimes.”
While the number of illegal aliens breaking in is uncertain, the study said, “the range of reasonable assumptions indicates that a wall would not have to come close to being anywhere near 100 percent effective to pay for itself.”
“This would be true even if a wall cost twice as much. A wall that is only partially effective could pay for itself by offsetting the cost that otherwise successful illegal crossers would create.”