How Mexico would indirectly fund improved border security with no change to US law or treaties

Reducing the number of illegal immigrants would reduce the net cost to state and federal governments, while reducing remittances from the US. That means that the cost of improved border security is effective paid by countries, such as Mexico, that send large number of illegal immigrants to the US even if there is no change to laws or treaties.

Here is the math:

  1. The Heritage Foundation estimates that the net cost to federal and state governments is about $15,000/year per unlawful immigrant household.
    The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer

  2. Consider a $5 billion improvement to border security. A reduction in the unlawful immigrant population by an average by 33000 households over 10 years would pay for the improvement.

  3. For comparison there are about 12 million illegal immigrants in the US. Assuming 4 people per household (130,000 people) means that improved security needs to reduce the unlawful immigrant population by only about 1% to pay for itself. Illegal immigration to the United States - Wikipedia

  4. The number of attempted illegal entries stopped by US immigration was about 500,000 last fiscal year; even a small improvement in enforcement would pay for increased security.

  5. Remittances to Mexico and central America were about $50 billion last year. The total immigrant population from Mexico and Central America is about 15 million. A reduction in immigrant population by 130000 would reduce remittances by about $430 million/year. Over ten years the reduction in remittances is about equal to the cost of the improved security. Migrants' Remittances to Mexico, Central America Jump to $53 Billion

Therefore any outlay by the federal government could be more than offset by a reduction government expenditures to unlawful immigrants. Mexico and other foreign countries would effectively pay for improved border security in reduced remittances even if there is no change to US law or international treaties.

Trump is right.

none of that equal Mexico giving America money.

Show me the math where Mexico gives us a check?

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The net cost to US taxpayers goes down. So do net payments back to Mexico and other countries.

The net effect is the same as a payment from Mexico to the US.

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Yes but the U.S tax payers would still be paying for the wall.

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No check required.

Mexico pays in the form of reduced remittances. US tax payers get a net benefit in reduced payment to unlawful immigrants.

so private citizen will be taxed to pay for the wall.

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how do you tell an illegal remittance from a normal remittance?

Not in the long run.

The savings from reduced payments to immigrants more than offsets the cost of border security.

When I go to Walmart and use a coupon for savings on my toothpaste… does that mean Walmart paid for my floss?


The remittances are all legal.

The point is that fewer immigrants in the US means lower total payments to foreign countries.

Yes I can see that but the money is still coming from American taxes, simply because you saved some government waste doesn’t make Trump lie anymore true.

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You have put forward a great plan to fund the wall without increasing taxes, not a great plan to get Mexico to pay for it.

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Reduced government payments to unlawful immigrants pays for improved border security.

How many of the estimated 12 million crossed the US/Mexico border illegally versus overstayed a visa?

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The point is that improved border security pays for itself by reducing payments to unlawful immigrants.

The reduction in cash going to remittances is a side effect.

Of course people can produce net benefits to their home countries by staying where they are. Improved border security could be a win-win.

Actually that is irrelevant to the economics.

The question is what is the net effect of improved border security on the population of unlawful immigrants in the US. Even a small reduction can pay for itself.

Is a wall the best way to accomplish this? Do you even need a wall to accomplish this?

Mexican citizens in Mexico getting less money sent from illegal immigrants in the US, how does that equate to money being paid to the US Treasury by the Mexican government? It does not. That’s like saying my cup of coffee at Starbucks today was paid by you, because you found some loose change in your couch. I.e., it makes as much sense.

Great piece Bill, you need to turn off your wiki though.