While campaigning for president, Donald Trump promised Mexico would pay for a wall on the southern United States border to stop illegal immigration. As president, Trump has wavered on that promise, but reiterated it in January. He claimed Mexico would pay for it through NAFTA.
But the president, and his supporters, are in luck. According to a new study, neither America nor Mexico will have to pay for the wall outright. Instead, the wall will simply pay for itself.
What did the study find?
The study from the Center for Immigration Studies found that the $18 billion wall will pay for itself through not only savings in curbing crime associated with illegal immigration, but the other major, and unfortunate, side effect of immigrating to the U.S. illegally: poverty.
Steven Camarota, director of research for CIS, told the New York Post: "The wall could pay for itself even if it only modestly reduced illegal crossings and drug smuggling."
Currently, the Department of Homeland Security estimates that 1.7 million people will immigrate to the U.S. illegally over the next decade. If a wall stops just 200,000 of those people, the wall will be paid for, Camarota explained, through savings in welfare, public education, tax breaks, and other benefits illegal immigrants receive.
And if a wall stops 50 percent of those immigrants, Camarota said the U.S. government could save more than $60 billion, in addition to savings in law enforcement and border control.
Wait, illegal immigrants can receive welfare?
Mostly, no. But as Camarota told the Post, a majority of immigrants in the U.S. illegally receive benefits through family members who are U.S. citizens.
"A large share of the welfare used by immigrant households is received on behalf of their U.S.-born children. This is especially true of households headed by illegal immigrants,” Camarota explained.
"There is simply no question that households headed by illegal immigrants access a good deal of welfare. In fact, illegal immigrants’ use of some programs is quite high,” he added.
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Therefore, illegal border-crossers create an average fiscal burden of more than $72,000 during their lifetimes, Camarota says. Including costs for their US-born children, the fiscal drain jumps to more than $94,000.
The US Census Bureau’s latest “survey of income and program participation” shows that 62 percent of illegal-immigrant-headed households are on the federal dole — more than double the rate for households headed by native-born Americans. And that includes households where one or more workers are present in the household.
Their use of US welfare is highest for food stamps and Medicaid, data show.
Indeed, illegal immigration has proved to be very costly for U.S. taxpayers.
According to data from the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the burden of illegal immigrants on U.S. taxpayers was $135 billion in 2017.
Meanwhile, illegal immigrants paid only $19 billion back into the system through taxes, bringing their overall fiscal burden to $116 billion in 2017.