Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, August 3, 2017
Deporting the country’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants would cost nearly $125 billion, but allowing them to remain in the U.S. could cost taxpayers far more, according to a new report being released Thursday.
Steven A. Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, crunched the numbers and found that the current population of illegal immigrants will drain nearly $750 billion from taxpayers over their lifetimes — amounting to six times the deportation costs.
“Sometimes people say look, we couldn’t deport everybody because it’s prohibitively expensive,” Mr. Camarota said. “But if your only concern is fiscal cost, it’s pretty clear that letting them stay is a hell of a lot more expensive.”
The crux of Mr. Camarota’s analysis is the nature of illegal immigrants, who are far more likely to be low-skilled, less-educated workers than the native-born population. Though they also don’t have access to some services and benefits reserved for citizens and legal residents, they do get other benefits, such as education.
A report last year by the National Academy of Sciences helped put a dollar figure on the lifetime costs and benefits of immigrants, based on levels of education.
Mr. Camarota adjusted that study for illegal immigrants and concluded that those with advanced degrees are a $424,000 boon to the U.S. over their lifetime, but those who dropped out of high school are a $173,000 drain. Overall, it works out to a net cost to taxpayers of nearly $63,000 per illegal immigrant.
Deportations have ticked up under President Trump, but the rise of sanctuary cities and of migrants choosing to fight their cases every step of the way in immigration courts is making each deportation more expensive as well.
Mr. Trump has asked for a surge in new detention beds to hold illegal immigrants, and for 1,000 new officers next year to boost the deportation force.