May 1, 2017
In a recent report published by the Center for Immigration Studies, I examined the fiscal costs of illegal immigrants who cross the border based on estimates developed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS). I then estimated how many illegal border-crossers a wall would have to stop or deter to pay for itself.
Last week Cato Institute authors Alex Nowrasteh and David Bier published a blog post criticizing my analysis. For the most part, their comments reflect their opinions concerning the marginal impact of things like the cost of more Border Patrol agents or whether state and local costs should count, rather than actually addressing the real cost of a wall. One interesting point they argue is that illegal immigrants are somewhat more educated than I estimated, but they do not explain how they created their estimates and I have not been able to replicate their numbers. Nonetheless, the Cato authors still find that illegal border-crossers cost $43,444 during their lifetimes, or $4.3 billion per 100,000. So, despite the Cato blog post being titled "The Border Wall Cannot Pay for Itself", their own cost estimates would simply mean that a border wall would have to stop 16 to 20 percent of those expected in the next decade to pay for itself (as opposed to 9 to 12 percent in my estimate).
Some of the specific issues with Cato's critique: Read more...