Donald Trump’s platform for president of the United States seems to be to throw gasoline on the fire of issues that stir the growing band of right-wingers, afraid of the increased darkening of America, into an anti-immigrant rage.
Not only does Trump insist he will build a wall between Mexico and the U.S., but now he is going to deport 11.5 million undocumented immigrants—a cost to the U.S. economy that will rise into the hundreds of billions and could leave us more indebted to China.
According to a 2009 Government Accountability Office report, the average cost of fencing per mile is around $2.8 million to $3.9 million for the easiest-to-install and least expensive urban fencing. That’s not counting the fact that acquiring private land and tribal land on the border will send the cost skyrocketing more per mile.
Then there’s the cost to deport immigrants. According to a study by the Center for American Progress, it would cost around $200 billion to “find and arrest, detain, legally process and transport the undocumented population over a five-year period.”
Unless, of course, Trump is going to do all these things with his own money using his much-touted negotiation skills?
But what would America really be like without illegal immigration? Several towns across the country are now experiencing this reality smack in the pocket book. Several towns that built jails to profit from illegal immigration now find themselves in fiscal straits as border detentions slow to a crawl.
Last year, there were 487,000 apprehensions compared with nearly 1.7 million in 2000, according to the U.S. Border Patrol. Further, the number of immigration detainees last year was down 11 percent from 2012, according to figures from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The average daily population in ICE detention was 31,164 in June, down 16 percent over the same time period last year.
According to Bloomberg News, many cities that floated municipal bonds and hedged their town’s economic futures on the backs of the same “illegal aliens” they have been quick to denounce are now facing a default on loans.
“In Texas, the heart of a jail-building boom over the past decade, nine of 21 counties that created agencies to issue about $1.3 billion in municipal bonds to build privately run correctional facilities largely for migrants have defaulted on their debt.”
Further, according to Bloomberg, “A dozen other facilities from Florida to Louisiana to Arizona, many that housed immigrants, have also defaulted, according to figures from Municipal Market Analytics, a bond-research firm based in Concord, Massachusetts.” Right on!
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg for these towns. Imagine if the 11.5 million alone who keep the economic engine of the U.S. running are abruptly and suddenly removed. Can you imagine the economic fallout? It would undoubtedly crash the economy, not to mention the debt that will be racked up by the mass deportation. The reality is the U.S. economy benefits in the billions from immigrants—legal or not. The best remedy would be to put the non-criminal undocumented on a path to legalization so the coffers of the United States can benefit from fines and taxes in years to come instead of being emptied by mad men like Trump.
The writer is CMO of Hard Beat Communications, which owns the brands News Americas Now, CaribPR Wire and Invest Caribbean Now.