Donald Trump sharply pushed back against CNN host Erin Burnett after she told him that illegal immigrants contribute billions in taxes to the U.S. government.
The exchange came in an interview set to air Thursday evening. The Republican presidential candidate was contending the cost of a wall was minuscule compared to the amount of money illegal immigration costs the American taxpayer.
“Let me just explain something. Illegal immigration each year costs us between 200 and 300 billion dollars,” he said. “I don’t know if anybody gives you those numbers — probably not. But, and when you include crime and other problems it’s more than that. So you are talking about 200 and 300 billion, the way it is now.”
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Burnett pushed back against the real estate tycoon.
“But they pay in taxes, they pay 24 billion dollars in taxes,” she said.
“Who pays in taxes? You really believe they pay in taxes?” Trump asked.
“They pay Social Security, state and local,” Burnett replied.
“What percentage of them? 10 percent?” Trump asked.
“It’s 24 billion a year this economy wouldn’t have if they weren’t here,” Burnett pressed.
“Excuse me, excuse me. Do you know how few pay in taxes. Don’t be naive,” Trump shot back. “Do you think an illegal immigrant getting money is going to be paying taxes? OK, sure. Some probably do. But only because the employers are insisting on it.”
“But, percentage wise, there is very little,” he continued. “Probably five percent, 10 percent. It’s a very small amount that pay taxes. Look, they are here illegally. They are not paying taxes. I’ve heard this one before too. I hear them all.”
According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, approximately 11.4 million individuals in the U.S. illegally paid $11.84 billion in state and local taxes in 2012. The conservative Heritage Foundation estimated unlawful immigrant households paid $39.2 billion in 2010, but received $93.7 billion in government services.
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