If President Trump’s border wall stopped just 10 percent of new illegal immigrants it would pay for itself by saving American taxpayers from spending money on services for those migrants over their lifetimes, according to a new report from the Center for Immigration Studies.
The center, which advocates for a crackdown on immigration, said illegal border crossers are a net drain of nearly $75,000 per person over their lifetimes. Stopping just 200,000 border-jumpers over the next decade would save some $15 billion.
The better the wall does at stopping people, the more money it saves taxpayers, the report said.
“If a wall stopped half of those expected to successfully enter illegally without going through a port of entry at the southern border over the next 10 years, it would save taxpayers nearly $64 billion — several times the wall’s cost,” Steven A. Camarota, a demographer and the report’s author, wrote.
The figure for the cost of illegal immigrant border-crossers comes from a recent National Academy of Sciences report. It covers federal, state and local spending and benefits for illegal immigrants.
Mr. Camarota said new research from the Institute for Defense Analysis calculated that 170,000 illegal immigrants successfully jumped the border in 2015. Stopping just an extra 20,000 a year over the next decade would be enough to pay for a wall at $15 billion — a figure floated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier this year.
But Reuters reported this month on an internal Homeland Security study that said the wall’s cost could be more than $20 billion, which would change the calculations for the break-even point.
Mr. Trump has said the price tag would be born by Mexico, but he has struggled to come up with a successful way to transfer the cost.
The crux of Mr. Camarota’s calculations depends on the type of immigrant that’s jumping the border. They are far more likely to have lower levels of education than either native-born Americans or legal immigrants. Some 57 percent of border crossers haven’t completed high school, he calculated.