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The Economics of Mass Deportation: “Where Deeply Shameful Collides with Truly Stupid”

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activists fight against mass deportationThe cruelty and chaos unleashed by the Trump Administration’s mass deportation strategy comes at a tremendous cost to America. In a Sunday editorial titled, “The Immigration Facts Donald Trump Doesn’t Like,” the New York Times writes:

“Let’s be clear: The moral case against President Trump’s plan to uproot and expel millions of unauthorized immigrants is open-and-shut. But what about the economic cost? This is where deeply shameful collides with truly stupid.”

The editorial highlights the staggering existing costs of immigration enforcement and the billions of dollars in new spending the Trump crackdown will require, despite the fact that:

“Illegal immigration from Mexico has trailed off in the last decade. And according to the Pew Hispanic Center, the net flow across the border is now less than zero.”

The Times then summarizes the toll mass deportation would inflict on our economy:

If you do back-of-the-envelope calculations, you’re gonna need a big envelope. The American Action Forum last year estimated that expelling all unauthorized immigrants, and keeping them out, would cost $400 billion to $600 billion, and reduce the gross domestic product by $1 trillion. Mr. Trump describes immigrants as rapist-murderer-terrorists, but what they really are is a pillar of the American economy, producing a net benefit of about $50 billion since 1990. Farms and restaurants, hotels, manufacturers, retail businesses — all sectors of the economy benefit directly or indirectly from immigrant labor.

…While we wait for Mr. Kelly to achieve his boss’s bleak vision, we will have created a population of increasingly vulnerable, exploited noncitizens and Dreamer youths whose educations hit a dead end after high school. All that intellectual and economic potential, the prospect of rising incomes and tax payments, will have been squandered. But squandering is the whole point. The “deportation force” may or may not hit its 11 million target, the wall may or may not stretch from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico, but terror and intimidation have already spread through immigrant communities. And this is what the nativists who have been schooling the president want. The larger costs to the economy, and the dire human toll, do not concern them.

State-by-State Costs of Mass Deportation

Underscoring the editorial are a collection of recent examples from around the country that hint at the staggering costs of following through on the Trump deportation vision:

More Costs of Mass Deportation

  • Frommer’s, the travel-focused outlet, highlights the “Trump Slump,” noting that “experts across the travel industry are warning that masses of tourists are being scared away from visiting the United States, and the loss of tourism jobs could be devastating … flight passengers from the seven Muslim-majority nations named by Trump were down by 80% in the last week of January and first week of February, according to Forward Keys, a well-known firm of travel statisticians. On the web, flight searches for trips heading to the U.S. out of all international locations was recently down by 17%. A drop of that magnitude, if continued, would reduce the value of foreign travel within the U.S. by billions of dollars. And the number of jobs supported by foreign tourists and their expenditures in the United States—and thus lost—would easily exceed hundreds of thousands of workers in hotels, restaurants, transportation, stores, tour operations, travel agencies, and the like.”
  • PS Magazine highlights recent reports from the Center for Migration Studies and Center for American Progress which highlight the toll mass deportation would inflict on our economy, including a range of industry sectors as well as the stability of the national housing market. The reports, “paint a dire picture of an American economy strained by the sudden, rapid evaporation of its undocumented immigrant population. Of the 11.3 million undocumented residents targeted by the Trump administration, some seven million are workers (4.9 percent of the overall U.S. workforce), which means key industries that rely on migrant labor — agriculture, construction, and hospitality — would face workforce reductions between 10 and 18 percent, according to the CAP. The irony is that the bulk of the economic losses will be endured not by immigrant-dependent sectors, but large industries like financial activities, manufacturing, and the wholesale and retail trade, which stand to see annual losses of $193 billion total. Overall, U.S. industries face a short-run loss of $236 billion … According to the CMS, there were 5.3 million households with at least one undocumented resident as of 2014, more than half of which (2.8 million) are home to nearly 5.7 million U.S.-born children under the age of 18. Swiftly removing undocumented residents from these mixed-status households would result in an immediate reduction of median household income from $41,300 to $22,000, a 47 percent drop that would suddenly place millions of American families below the poverty line. It’s also worth noting that some 2.4 million mortgages are held by households with undocumented occupants, per the CMS report, and their sudden absence would certainly make markets still recovering from the meltdown of 2008 as skittish as they’ve been in years.”