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Deporting the Undocumented: A Cost Assessment

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Deporting the Undocumented: A Cost Assessment provides the first-ever estimate of the costs of a policy designed to deport all undocumented persons currently in the United States and those who successfully crossed the border (approximately 10 million people). Using publicly available data, we estimate the costs of a mass deportation effort to be at least $206 billion over five years ($41.2 billion annually), and could be as high as $230 billion or more. Spending $41.2 billion annually would exceed the entire budget of the Department of Homeland Security for FY 2006 ($34.2 billion) and more than double the annual cost of military operations in Afghanistan ($16.8 billion).

This paper helps illustrate the false allure of deportation as a response to our broken immigration system. Our nation needs comprehensive immigration reform, not unrealistic and costly ideas that drain the Treasury with no benefit to our security.

The paper was authored by Senior Domestic Policy Analyst Rajeev Goyle. David A. Jaeger, Ph.D., associate professor of economics at the College of William and Mary, conducted the data analysis.

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Katie Peters (economy, education, poverty, Half in Ten Education Fund)
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Print: Anne Shoup (foreign policy and national security, energy, LGBT issues, health care, gun-violence prevention)
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Print: Crystal Patterson (immigration)
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