The next time President Obama feigns concern over the national deficit, Americans should ask him why he does not take a simple step that would free up $1 trillion a decade, assure his social spending went to his fellow countrymen, and allow one of our allies to rebuild its traditional way of life: He could deport every illegal immigrant in the United States.
The facts are out: deportation would be considerably less expensive than the unsustainable influx of illegal aliens who all-too-readily enroll in our entitlement programs. On December 3, the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs of the Department of Homeland Security, Nelson Peacock, responded to a letter from a number of senators about the costs of deporting all illegal aliens. “Our conservative estimate suggests that ICE would require a budget of more than $135 billion to apprehend, detain and remove the nation’s entire illegal immigrant population,” he wrote.
The Center for American Progress (CAP) – the most influential “progressive” think tank in Washington, which was founded with seed money from George Soros – released a report in March that provided a slightly higher estimate. CAP forecast it would cost taxpayers $285 billion over five years to “snare the 10.8 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.” The report assumed “20 percent of the current population [of illegals], or 2.16 million people, would depart before any contact with authorities,” that is, they would voluntarily self-deport. The residue would cost $200 billion to deport. The Center padded the total with another $85 billion to hold the line for five years.
Given the Center’s political orientation, we may safely assume theirs is the upper ceiling. But how would these estimates compare with the status quo?
In July, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) released a study, The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on U.S. Taxpayers, stating illegal immigrants cost U.S. taxpayers $113 billion every year in benefits at the local, state, and federal levels combined.
Under the most liberal estimate, the five-year cost of deporting every illegal immigrant in the United States would pay for itself in 2.5 years. It would be just 14 months according to ICE.
Over ten years, the United States would save $1.13 trillion, or $845 billion in the first decade minus CAP’s estimated deportation costs.
These estimates, of course, only tally economic savings to the government. They do not reflect the substantial economic and personal well-being each American will experience from lower rates of drug trafficking, murders, gang activity, kidnappings, sexual assaults, crime, home invasions, overcrowded schools, hospital closures caused by soaring medical costs, job losses, prison detentions, bilingual status, property damage, environmental degradation, and overburdened infrastructure. The more educated children of illegals, whom Obama hopes to reward with the DREAM Act, would squeeze native-born citizens out of competitive slots in universities and careers; deporting them, as I have suggested, would open up educational and employment opportunities for our own citizens. These benefits are truly incalculable, yet they are never mentioned as part of the immigration debate.
Some may object that deporting 11-13 million illegal immigrants is impossible. History proves not only that it can be done but that it has been done.
The United States government has encouraged massive repatriation of illegal immigrants a number of times – first in the early days of the Great Depression, and various times until the 1950s. The most significant effort took place in 1954, when President Eisenhower commenced “Operation Wetback” to deport the illegal immigrants – then as now, mostly from Mexico – whose numbers had grown 6,000 percent in ten years.
Ike turned the plan over to the commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), General Joseph Swing. The two generals cleaned house in three months.
Over the course of 90 days, a mere 750 federal agents, working with state and local law enforcement, deported 80,000 illegal immigrants from Texas. Nearly ten times that many illegals (700,000 to be precise) voluntarily left the Lone Star State, with perhaps another half-million self-deporting from Arizona and California. Instead of dumping them at the nearest border town, INS agents shipped them by train or boat deep into the interior of Mexico, to places like Vera Cruz. Ike’s operations would solve the problem of cheap illegal labor until the mid-1960s.
Could the same thing be accomplished today? The surviving veterans of the operation have no doubt. Walt Edwards, a Border Patrol agent in the 1950s, has said, “Some say we cannot send 12 million illegals now in the United States back where they came from. Of course we can!”
Yes, we can! Si, se puede!
Already, the number of voluntary self-deportations is on the rise, partly from a poor economy and partly from increased pressure. At the moment, ICE or the U.S. Marshals charter flights from 40 cities into the interior of Mexico.
And the greatest beneficiary of these operations appears to be Mexico itself.
The Houston Chronicle noted last year that several Mexican interior states “such as Guanajuato and Chihuahua have announced employment programs for possible returnees.” The newspaper ran a two-part series in 2009 chronicling the lives of several illegal immigrants returned home – the joyous families, the skills they have taught, and the businesses they have opened in the once-barren towns.
Far from being resentful, the deportees have returned to their villages with the agricultural or technological skills they learned in the United States and opened businesses they believe will allow their friends and neighbors to make a life for themselves without leaving Mexico or breaking American law.
In Guanajato, deep in Mexico’s midsection, Jesus Ramirez opened the Nuevo Lindero Dairy Society after being deported from Los Estados Unidos. He now employs 45 families. “Here, almost 50 percent of the population goes to the United States. When they reach 18, they say, ‘See you later,’” he lamented. “With this source of jobs, we hope our children will stay.”
Nor is he alone. Blas Chavez and his brother Alejandro had lived in San Antonio before being returned; now they grow tomatoes in greenhouses and employ 25 fellow Mexicans. “Our workers are from the community,” Blas said. “They can work here all year, and they don’t have to risk taking the trip north.” Alejandro added, “Right now I’m struggling to recruit kids to go to college.” One of their employees, Josue Garcia Arteaga, who was also deported from the United States, seems grateful for the chance to stay in his homeland. “Now I have a son who is 11 months old. I have a job, and here, I can make what I need to maintain my family. That’s why I haven’t gone back.”
In one Mexican state alone, the newspaper explains, returning citizens have opened “a women’s cooperative producing restaurant tablecloths, a tequila distillery and a factory to assemble tote bags for California wineries.”
The Mexican embassy has stated these returnees have grown their country and helped once deserted towns thrive. Ricardo Alday, a spokesman for the Mexican Embassy, has said his government’s assistance for local businesses is “a way for us to provide, as much as we can, new opportunities for our citizens and at the same time, strengthen the local and state economies and provide them with hope after they return to our country.”
These returned deportees – unwanted in the United States – have made a significant step toward turning Mexico’s economic desert bloom into brilliant shades of verde. It seems immoral to destroy Mexican village life by providing incentives for these entrepreneurs to abandon their friends, families, and country to become “cheap labor” for agribusiness, cooks in Mexican restaurants, or nannies to aspiring gubernatorial candidates.
True, the move would not be without political controversy, but it is clearly both in our interest and in the interests of Mexicans.
It will not be without economic costs, but this relatively modest amount of money will be spent enforcing our laws, not undermining them; enhancing the value of U.S. citizenship, not debasing it; uniting our society, not dividing it by creating a subsect of residents who are linguistically and culturally isolated; shutting the door to welfare spending and government dependence, not throwing it wide open to anyone who can cross one of our borders.
Instead, President Obama has sued the sheriff most committed to upholding immigration law and hauled the state of Arizona before the United Nations to answer for its alleged violation of illegal immigrants’ constitutional rights. After all, his agribusiness donors need cheap labor; his Democratic buddies need fodder for voter fraud; and the Cloward-Piven Strategy requires their warm bodies to pad out the welfare rolls that Americans are not yet doing, even in the recession he has presided over.
A president who placed the well-being of his country first would deport all illegal aliens. The fact that Obama is fighting with all his vigor to protect their interests should tell everyone how concerned he is with the well-being of America.