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President Trump is Different From Past Presidents
If you have not noticed, President Trump is very different from past presidents. One of the most extraordinary things that separate him from the pack is that he is keeping his campaign promises. The promise investigated here is about building a wall along our Southern border and making Mexico pay for it. President Trump started to keep his promise when, on January 25, 2017, he signed Executive Order 13767 and directed the government to build a border wall with Mexico. Before we can get into how to make Mexico pay for the wall, let us get into why one is needed in the first place.
How Many Illegal Immigrants are in the US?
Immigration consists of people moving here legally and illegally. More than 43.7 million immigrants resided in the United States in 2016, accounting for 13.5% of the total US population of 323.1 million, according to American Community Survey (A.C.S.) data. Illegal immigration across the Southern border has been steadily decreasing. It dropped by 1.3 million from 2016 to 2017 for a new estimated total of 10 million illegals currently in the US today.
Obviously, the US taxpayer will front the cost of the wall, at least in the beginning.
There are a couple of reasons for this: Mexico’s economy is improving, providing more opportunities there. With President Trump’s election and campaign promises aimed at illegal immigration, fewer people are risking the trip north, estimated at only 1.3 million per year. Today, Immigration Customs and Enforcement captures over 330,000 annually, with most now being returned.
How Much Does Immigration Cost the United States Every Year?
The White House used a graphic recently that said Immigration cost Americans $300 billion every year. The Pew Research Center conducted a study in 2013 establishing a total of $296 billion.
Illegal Immigrants cost us around $68.7 billion annually, which is already accounted for in the $300 billion that covers all immigration. This number is derived by dividing the total of 43.7 million Immigrants into $300 billion to get $6,870 per person, then multiplying that number by the 10 million estimated illegal immigrants currently in the US
Now that we know how much each illegal person costs the federal government annually and what contributed to the decrease in illegal immigration, we can credit President Trump with saving us $6.9 billion each year. We are only covering the Federal portion of the tab here; each state pays a heavy price in additional benefits, especially in education.
How Much Will the Border Wall Cost?
The entire US-Mexico border covers almost 2,000 miles. First estimates came in at $10 billion, then over time rose to the most repeated and realistic quote of $26 billion. That appears to be a very realistic estimate, as each mile of fence currently cost $4 million to install and every mile of the wall is expected to cost $9 million.
“A section of border wall that features an “anti-climbing plate” will replace about 14 miles of improvised border fencing created from scrap metal, and cost $147 million. Construction of this new substantial wall will improve overall border security, the safety and effectiveness of border patrol agents, the safety of the public, and will enhance the atmosphere for business and commerce in the area.”
Customs and border protection’s acting deputy commissioner, Ronald Vitiello, added that this “launch of construction efforts represents an important milestone in Trump’s plan to secure the US’s border with Mexico.”
How to Pay for the Wall?
Obviously, the US taxpayer will front the cost of the wall, at least in the beginning. There are a couple of different ways that are floating around on how to pay for the wall. The one most mentioned by President Trump is to tax remittances, which are money transfers from friends and relatives living in the US sending money to people in Mexico. The amount transferred out of the US to Mexico in 2016 totaled $27.6 billion. Taxing all remittances that leave the US, totaling over $67 billion, would hurt the poorest of the poor in struggling nations such as Haiti and Honduras. Targeting our NAFTA neighbor to the south will be an easier pill for most Americans to swallow as 25% of Mexico’s gross domestic product (GDP) is derived by remittances from the US, just edging out oil’s contribution to their GDP. Needless to say, President Trump has Mexico’s attention.
US taxpayers already foot the bill of the $68.7 billion of new Illegal Immigrants each year; however, to be fair, people seeking a better life crossing the southern border are only half of our problem as visa overstays account for the other half.
Currently, there is legislation that has been introduced in the house of representatives by Rep. Mike Rogers (R, AL-3) to impose a tax on remittances of 2%. This has been introduced and referred to subcommittees.
How in the world can President Trump make Mexico pay for the wall? There are three ways highlighted by Bloomberg:
- Cutting off remittance payments;
- Imposing a 20% border adjustment tax on Mexican exports into the US;
- Canceling all or part of the $200 million the US gives Mexico.
Mexico does not actually write the US a check, but with either option or some combination, they will be paying for the wall.