Over the past several years, the left has promulgated the theory that a mass deportation effort would result in taxpayers being forced to shoulder an exorbitant financial burden. 

The question of whether or not deporting all illegal aliens in the country is too costly for taxpayers is further exacerbated by extreme price tags tacked onto deportation efforts by prominent left-wing organizations. 

For example, reportedly ideologically liberal magazine Reason has been singled out as responsible for sparking the debate by reporting that it would cost the federal government about $150 billion to deport 11 million illegal aliens. This averages to about $14,000 for each illegal alien. Another figure by Penn Wharton estimates the total cost would be about $400 billion.  

According to many, these are scare tactics employed by leftist media to frighten conservatives out of advocating for strong border security measures—chiefly, deportation. For example, economist and former professor Dr. Peter St Onge posted on X that “The left is trying to scare Americans off mass deportation by hyping the cost.” 

These arguments are all but new. For years—stretching back to as far as 2015—open border advocates have used theoretical financial burdens on American taxpayers as a means to convince the public that mass deportation is not only inhumane but much too costly for feasibility. 

Nine years ago, Cap20 cited similar statistics from “progressive” think tank, Center for American Progress, that a mass deportation scheme would cost $114 billion to remove 11.3 million illegal aliens, with some numbers being much higher depending on the method of calculation. 

“Beyond being prohibitively costly and morally unsustainable, removing so many individuals from the country—and from the labor force—would devastate the nation,” Cap20 posited. 

Some have already concluded that despite the reported costs, paying for the deportation of millions of illegal aliens is a deal not worth passing up. 

“But dig in and it turns out mass deportation is the bargain of the century,” Dr. Onge said. Economics X account Wall Street Silver posted Monday “Toss in the crime, delinquency, and millions of left-wing voters, and it’s the bargain of the century. Deport them all. Then finish that big, beautiful wall.”

Indeed, the opposite of what the left has claimed for years is true: allowing illegal aliens to remain in-country is more costly than a large deportation mechanism. 

According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the net cost of illegal immigration for the U.S. at the federal, state, and local levels last year was, at minimum, $150.7 billion. This figure was deduced by subtracting illegal aliens’ tax revenue (slightly under $32 billion) from their gross negative economic impact: $182 billion. 

FAIR argues that “Illegal immigration costs each American taxpayer $1,156 per year ($957 after factoring in taxes paid by illegal aliens).”

Center for Immigration Studies Director of Research Steven Camarota wrote in his January 11 House Budget Committee testimony that, regardless of the taxes they pay, illegal aliens are a net drain on the American economy due to poor education levels, which has resulted in both low incomes and low tax contributions. 

Additionally, the number of illegal aliens already inside the country draining its welfare system is significantly higher than 11 million—and it is continuing to increase, which only exacerbates already exponential economic instability as a result. According to FAIR, as of the beginning of 2022, at least 15.5 million illegal aliens were residing in the United States, not to mention the number of “got-aways” that would be incredibly difficult to count. 

“Illegal immigrants are a significant net fiscal drain—paying less in taxes than they use in public services,” Camarota wrote. “We need an immigration policy that reflects current realities, and we need to rigorously enforce it. Otherwise, the fiscal costs will be significant, as many communities across the country are currently finding out.”

Will Biagini

Will was born in Louisiana and raised in a military family. He currently serves as a journalist with Texas Scorecard. Previously, he was a senior correspondent for Campus Reform.