The Costs of Mr. Trump’s Dragnet
A NY Times editorial shows grotesque waste of money spent addressing a non-existent problem:
Let’s be clear: The moral case against President Trump’s plan to uproot and expel millions of unauthorized immigrants is open-and-shut. But what about the economic cost? This is where deeply shameful collides with truly stupid.
The Migration Policy Institute reported in 2013 that the federal government spends more each year on immigration enforcement — through Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol — than on all other federal law enforcement agencies combined. The total has risen to more than $19 billion a year, and more than $306 billion in all since 1986, measured in 2016 dollars. This exceeds the sum of all spending for the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Secret Service; the Marshals Service; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
ICE and the Border Patrol already refer more cases for federal prosecution than the entire Justice Department, and the number of people they detain each year (more than 400,000) is greater than the number of inmates being held by the Federal Bureau of Prisons for all other federal crimes.
That is blank-check, steroidal enforcement — and Mr. Trump and the Homeland Security secretary, John Kelly, want more.
The size of the Border Patrol more than doubled in the 1990s and doubled again after 9/11. Mr. Trump ran on a pledge to expand the patrol and triple the size of ICE; Mr. Kelly has obliged. His enforcement memos last week seek to increase the force by 10,000 ICE officers and 5,000 Border Patrol agents.
Or maybe more, if you consider the administration’s trial balloon, recently floated, to mobilize 100,000 National Guard troops and add them to the mix. Such an effort would surely exceed, in scale and futility, President Woodrow Wilson’s decision to send the Army and that National Guard to the Southwest to fruitlessly chase Pancho Villa in 1916. How much will it all cost? Mr. Trump isn’t saying, if he has bothered to check.
Mr. Trump also talks about a 2,000-mile, double-thick, very high wall along the border from San Diego to Brownsville, Tex. There are already 700 miles of fencing on the border, plus watchtowers, sensors, floodlights and razor wire, and boots and all-terrain vehicles on the ground and drones in the air. In 2009 the Government Accountability Office estimated the cost of the existing fence at $2.8 million to $3.9 million per mile, but that was for the relatively easy stretches.
Estimates of the full price of Mr. Trump’s great wall vary. He said it would cost $8 billion, then changed that to $10 billion to $12 billion. “Fat chance,” the MIT Technology Review said last October, finding Mr. Trump guilty of “bad math” and placing the real figure at $27 billion to $40 billion for 1,000 miles.
But wait — didn’t Mr. Trump also say the cost to America would actually be zero, since he would force Mexico to pay for the wall, even though Mexico says it won’t? He did. But then he said Mexico would reimburse us for the wall, which is to say … who knows? Mr. Kelly’s memos include a plan to catalog United States aid to Mexico, suggesting that he is looking for money to raid for a Trump wall fund, and that this so-called wall remains firmly in the realm of delusion. . .
Continue reading. Emphasis added.
Wait, there’s more. All the people Mr. Kelly rounds up will have to be detained and deported at taxpayer expense [instead of working at their jobs and paying payroll taxes – LG]. Congress requires the Homeland Security Department to maintain about 34,000 immigration detention beds, at an estimated annual cost of $2 billion, or $5.5 million a day. Adding thousands more cells and beds will surely send that bill — like the profits of the private-prison contractors who have been cashing in on all this misery — through the roof.
And there’s more beyond that.