The Endless Lie that Mass-Deportation is too Expensive

Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.” – Dorothy Allison

Watching “The Kelly File” tonight, I was once again hit over the head by the endlessly repeated lie that the United States simply doesn’t have the financial resources to deport all the millions of illegal immigrants living in the United States. This time, the lie came from the mouth of Leslie Marshall—but it’s all the same.

Set aside any argument regarding the ethics of illegal immigration, or what we should do with those who have come here illegally. For just a moment, as yourself the question: Is that statement true? Is the United States so strapped for cash that we cannot afford to deport all illegal immigrants? That’s the argument being relayed over and over again to the American people via liberals like Leslie Marshall.

According to the Center for American Progress (a liberal think tank, btw, so you know they’re likely inflating the numbers) a mass-deportation would cost approximately $285 billion over five years. That’s the high estimate, nearly double the number an ICE official offered in 2011. But let’s run with that.

The annual federal budget for 2014 was $3.8 trillion. So, the cost of deporting all illegal immigrants would be about 7.5% of the annual federal budget. I feel like there’s room in the federal budget somewhere for that 7.5 percent. In case you’re not satisfied, however, let’s go further down the rabbit hole.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) estimates that illegal immigrants cost U.S. taxpayers roughly $113 billion annually. $113 billion times five is $565 billion. If we go by FAIR’s estimate of costs, spending $285 billion over five years to deport every illegal immigrant would actually save taxpayers $280 billion.

Let’s take this one step further, just for fun.

The Heritage Foundation notes in a very lengthy and in-depth report that if the United States were to grant amnesty to every illegal immigrant, the amnestied illegals would cost the United States approximately $6.3 trillion over their lifetimes.

“Over a lifetime, the former unlawful immigrants together would receive $9.4 trillion in government benefits and services and pay $3.1 trillion in taxes. They would generate a lifetime fiscal deficit (total benefits minus total taxes) of $6.3 trillion. (All figures are in constant 2010 dollars.) This should be considered a minimum estimate.”

In the face of a $6.3 trillion lifetime cost, $285 billion over five years doesn’t seem like that big a deal.

The debate over illegal immigration will never end because, as Chris Matthews recently said on MSNBC, the Republicans want cheap labor and the Democrats want votes. However, don’t let anyone tell you that the United States doesn’t have the financial resources to deport illegal immigrants. It’s just not true.