As last week’s Gallup poll reaffirmed, a small minority of Americans—only 19 percent—believe that unauthorized immigrants should be deported from the United States. In contrast, the vast majority of Americans want sensible solutions to immigration policy, with 65 percent believing that unauthorized immigrants should be allowed to get legal status and a pathway to citizenship.
In analysis released today by the Center for American Progress, Associate Director for Immigration Policy Philip Wolgin discusses the cost of a mass deportation strategy, with research showing that the average cost per person would be $10,070, for a total of $114 billion to remove 11.3 million people.
The figure includes the high costs required to find each and every unauthorized individual, something that would be—aside from the high costs—a logistical nightmare. CAP’s $114 billion estimate also includes the cost to detain these individuals while they wait for removal, to process them through the already overburdened immigration courts, and to transport them abroad.
As a quick fix for unemployment, Mr. Trump’s plan is also a non-starter. The share of the labor force occupied by illegal immigrants in California, Nevada, Texas and New Jersey is much greater than the jobless rate in each of those states. Even if every unemployed American in those states took an undocumented worker’s job — wildly unlikely, given that most Americans are unwilling to do the dirty jobs filled by many immigrants — it would still leave hundreds of thousands jobs unfilled.
Despite his nativist rhetoric, Mr. Trump may grasp the staggering economic and social havoc that mass deportation would wreak. Hence his offhand comment, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” that he’d “bring them back rapidly, the good ones.”
According to the Migration Policy Institute, about 87 percent of the United States’ undocumented immigrants — some 10 million people — have no serious criminal record. If those turn out to qualify as Mr. Trump’s “good ones,” what purpose would be served by deporting them only to “bring them back rapidly”?
What Mr. Trump proposes is nothing less than manufacturing a humanitarian upheaval on a scale rivaling the refugee crisis in Syria. Notwithstanding his cavalier rhetoric, there’s no evidence Americans would tolerate such a mass uprooting of people who have planted deep roots in this nation.