The "fiscal drain" of illegal immigrants on American taxpayers is about 6 times the price of deporting them, according to a new study that bolsters the Trump administration's bid to remove criminal illegals and cut overall immigration costs.
The Center for Immigration Studies on Thursday said in a new report that deportation costs an average of $10,854. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, that includes apprehension, detention, and processing.
Letting illegal immigrants stay in the U.S., results in a bill to taxpayers of $65,292 "for each illegal immigrant, excluding their descendants," according to Steven A. Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies. That includes government benefits.
Camarota, citing two key fiscal impact studies, said that reason the cost of illegal immigration is high is because many are poorly educated and require more in government benefits than others.
"In short, illegal immigrants are a large net fiscal drain because of their education levels and this fact drives the results. Deportation, on the other hand, is not that costly relative to the fiscal costs illegal immigrants create," he wrote.
His key findings:
- In April of this year, ICE reported that the average cost of a deportation, also referred to as a removal, was $10,854 in FY 2016, including apprehension, detention, and processing.
- Partly due to policies adopted in the second term of the Obama administration, ICE removed nearly 170,000 fewer aliens in 2016 than in 2012, even though it actually spent 8 percent more in 2016 in inflation-adjusted dollars. The removal of so many more illegal immigrants in FY 2012 means that the average cost per removal in that year was $5,915, adjusted for inflation.
- If the average cost of a deportation was what it had been in FY 2012, then the larger enforcement budget in FY 2016 would have allowed for 200,000 more removals without spending additional money.
Costs of illegal immigrants
- Researchers agree 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 with this level of education are a significant net fiscal drain, creating more in costs for government than they pay in taxes.
- The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine estimated the lifetime fiscal impact (taxes paid minus services used) of immigrants based on their educational attainment. Averaging those estimates and applying them to the education level of illegal immigrants shows a net fiscal drain of $65,292 per illegal — excluding any costs for their children.
- Based on this estimate, there is a total lifetime fiscal drain of $746.3 billion. This assumes 11.43 million illegal immigrants are in the country based on the U.S. government's most recent estimate.
- The fiscal cost created by illegal immigrants of $746.3 billion compares to total a cost of deportation of $124.1 billion, assuming a FY 2016 cost per deportation, or $67.6 billion using FY 2012 deportation costs.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org