Deportation vs. Amnesty. It’s a debate that never ends.
Opponents of immigration enforcement argue that it would be prohibitively expensive to deport all illegal immigrants, so we should grant amnesty to them. Let them get into the system and start to pay taxes.
Problem is, studies show that this is a false argument because it is not necessary to deport all, or even most, of the illegal aliens in the U.S.
In fact, research finds that actually enforcing immigration laws will cause many illegal immigrants to “self-deport.” Meaning, they return to their home countries on their own accord. This sort of “self-deportation” has a ripple effect, as it discourages others from their home country to seek illegal entry into the U.S.
But put to the side the idea of self-deportation. What is the actual cost of deporting an illegal alien?
A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies finds that the average cost of a deportation is much smaller than the net fiscal drain created by the average illegal alien.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported that in 2016, the average deportation cost was $10,854. Compare the number to the average lifetime net fiscal drain (taxes paid minus services used) of $65,292 for each illegal alien, not including their descendants.
The total fiscal drain for the entire illegal population is estimated to be $746.3 billion.
For every million illegal aliens in the country there is a lifetime fiscal drain of $65.3 billion on public coffers. If we assume there are 11.43 million illegal aliens in the country — a number that has reportedly remained steady for the past eight years — then the total fiscal costs they create during their lifetimes is estimated to be $746.3 billion. So, the savings associated with removing or causing even a small fraction of the 11 to 12 million illegal aliens in the country to return home would be significant.
A 2013 study from the Heritage Foundation concluded, “Well-educated households tend to be net tax contributors. Poorly educated households, whether immigrant or U.S.-born, receive far more in government benefits than they pay in taxes.”
When the children of illegal immigrants are factored in, the costs to taxpayers rises significantly, because less-educated immigrants often earn low wages and use welfare programs and other public services. According to studies, the children of immigrants add $16,998 to the net fiscal drain, raising the total for the average illegal immigrant to $82,290. If we assume 11.43 million illegal immigrants are in the country, then the total cost of illegal immigrants and their descendants would be $940.6 billion.
A Heritage Foundation study estimated that, on average, illegal immigrants have 10 years of schooling. An earlier analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies of illegal immigrants based on 2011 Census Bureau data found that 54 percent of adults have not completed high school, 25 percent have only a high school degree, and 21 percent have education beyond high school. The Pew Research Center estimated that 47 percent of all illegal immigrants have not completed high school, 27 percent have only a high school education, 10 percent have some college, and 15 percent have a bachelor’s or more.
Because most illegal immigrants residing in our country have not completed high school or have only a high school education, this population is a large net fiscal drain on American society. Deportation, on the other hand, is not that costly when compared to the fiscal costs illegal immigrants create.