There’s been a lot of conversation around a certain wall over past couple years that may or may not be built along a specific border next to a specific country. It’s a controversial subject, to put it lightly. Now, I’ve been finding myself confused by the information that’s been circulating. There are a lot of numbers being presented, be it wall costs, immigrant populations, and costs of undocumented immigrants to the United States government. So, I’ve taken it upon myself to break down the numbers and get to the bottom of what is the wall.
As for the estimates of the wall, the number varies greatly depending on who they’re coming from. Donnie Trump estimates the cost is around $15 billion, a price it appears that most Republicans agree with. Democratic senators believe that the cost to build the wall will actually be $70 billion, and $150 million per year in maintenance. The third estimate in an op-ed from Fox News puts the price tag closer to $25 billion but also emphasizes that only includes the cost to build the said wall and not on the economic impact a wall could have, be it positive or negative. There are also other factors that could complicate the building of the wall, such as lawsuits over property, the sheer area of the wall, and areas requiring potential landscaping in order to be suitable for the construction of the wall.
So we now have three estimates to go off of: $15 billion, $25 billion, and $70 billion. Now, we must establish the cost of illegal immigrants to the United States government. That’s easier said than done, as this data is difficult to find without some sort of bias in place, as well as contributions immigrants make to the economy, which is an estimated $11.6 billion. The most reliable was an estimate of $54 billion, which the article states as difficult to determine a precise number.
In order to more likely represent the numbers that are being used, we have to adjust the number of immigrants to those that are Mexican, as the point of the wall is to limit migrants coming from the southern border. Of the immigrants who have come to, 50% of them come from Mexico. So, we’ll make some assumptions here and say that Mexican immigrants cost the government around $27 billion, and contribute roughly $5.8 billion to the economy. I also feel obligated to mention that while immigrants do cost the government money, as do normal Americans, although I wasn’t able to determine if the costs are more or less.
Now that we have some rough estimates of costs, it’s time to tackle some of the other claims that have been made, specifically referring to the claims that “when Mexico sends their people, they’re not sending us their best,” as stated by our President Donnie Trump, as well as later going on to state in that same speech “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing criminals. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. ” So there were some accusations made that I’ll have to address now.
Now, I cannot make judgments as to the characters of immigrants, but I can look into the claims that have been made. While he is correct that most illegal drugs are trafficked in from Mexico, they have typically moved through Ports of Entry, and a wall would likely have little to no impact on the drug trade. Of the estimated 11 million immigrants that live in the United States, about 820,000 have some prior criminal conviction, which is equal to roughly 7%. Of the 11 million, only about 300,000 carry a prior felony conviction, which is less than 3% of the population. As for the allegation that rapists are coming in, there tend to be more difficulties with finding data, as it’s much similar to a Bigfoot sighting; often claimed but rarely ever accurate. From some data I was able to find out of Texas, only about .03% of all convictions were sex crimes related to illegal immigrants. As can be seen, these claims tend to be exaggerated in favor of building support.
As we’ve broken down the information and potentially risked my social standing in my small town, it’s pretty easy to see that there’s a lot to address when looking at something such as a wall. I’m admittedly not a supporter of the wall for a great many reasons, mostly from an ethical background but also a financial inclination that the problem it seeks to fix won’t have enough impact to justify such an expensive and prolonged plan. I’m interested to see what everyone else thinks so feel free to sound off in a mature conversation.