From hotel resorts to golf courses to a private 757 jet (Hair Force One?), there’s no denying Donald Trump has been a successful moneymaker (“I’m really rich,” he once boasted, though the exact figure remains up for dispute).
But for all his business acumen, you gotta wonder why Trump’s sole immigration plan to date has been to embrace an ugly, outdated — and wildly expensive — plan to deport the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.
A new piece from Fusion’s Tim Rogers, “11.3 million reasons why Trump is wrong about immigration,” digs into why Trump’s “plan” is not only right-wing xenophobia at its worst, but bad economics that will hurt the nation overall:
Deporting people isn’t cheap in a country that endeavors to respect due process. The average estimated cost of deporting a single undocumented immigrant ranges wildly from $8,318 to $23,000, depending on who’s doing the estimating. So that times 11.3 million people is… well, an almost unimaginably large price tag to fund the removal of every undocumented migrant.
Also, it’s a fool’s errand. The logistics of organizing a nationwide roundup of 11 million people — not to mention the lawsuits that would result from such an effort— are too insane to even contemplate. The Center For American Progress once estimated that the five-year cost of enforcing a mass deportation strategy in the U.S. would be $285 billion. A total cleansing of all undocumented immigrants would take approximately 20 years and cost U.S. taxpayers between $400 billion and $600 billion, according to a more recent study by the American Action Forum. We’d probably have to melt down the Statue of Liberty just to pay for it all, which is fine because we wouldn’t need her services anymore.
It’s fact that immigrants not only build lives and communities in this country, but they also keep it running. No one should know this better than Trump himself, who has built his empire on the backs of the very immigrants he loves to demonize.
And, it’s simple economics: Scraping Trump’s ridiculous plan and instead putting undocumented immigrants on a path to citizenship — which the House of Representatives refused to do following the passage of the Senate’s 2013 comprehensive immigration reform package — would benefit us all:
Mass deportation would drain the U.S. economy of some $2.5 trillion over 10 years, according to the 2010 study by the Center for American Progress. In contrast, promoting a path to legalization and other immigration reforms would boost the U.S.’ economy by $1.5 trillion over that same period, according to the same study’s estimates.
And, contrary to baseless claims anti-immigrant opponents keep parroting, undocumented immigrants work hard to pay taxes to keep our communities, states, and nation running — and a whole lot of taxes, at that:
The 11 million-plus undocumented immigrants living in the United States contribute an estimated $11.84 billion in state and local taxes each year, according to a study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. That’s a conservative estimate based on 2012 numbers. It’s now thought to be closer to $12.6 billion. The study, based on data from 50 states, calculates that comprehensive immigration reform would boost the U.S.’ annual revenue flow by an additional $2.2 billion.
Not to mention undocumented immigrants “pay an estimated $15 billion a year into Social Security with no intention of ever collecting benefits,” according to CNN. So much for being takers, right?
In short, the type of ethnic cleansing that Trump proposes to “Make America Great Again” and return the country to that fabled, halcyon time in our country’s past that exists only in the rants of slightly demented old white men, makes for screwy politics and boondoggle economics. But it’s also helpful for voters because it offers, in one tidy argument, compelling proof to confirm our suspicions about Trump’s competencies as a politician and businessman.
At the end of the day, despite Trump’s best efforts to fix the country in his own image, America is made great by immigrants — and that includes the 11.3 million people who haven’t been able to put their paperwork in order. That’s what makes America America.