Last week, more than 1,000 immigrants surged through the U.S. southern border near El Paso, Texas — the largest number ever encountered by U.S. Border Control and Protection, with the previous record being set in the month of April, which was 424.
This unprecedented invasion spurred President Donald J. Trump to slap a 5 percent tariff on goods from Mexico in an effort to get the Mexican government to take seriously the problem of undocumented immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
The mainstream media, predictably, started lamenting on how the price of avocados for American consumers may potentially increase a few cents, and completely ignored the $200 billion American taxpayers pay each year in illegal immigration costs. Not to mention the cost of illegal drugs on our youth, and the cost to education and health care on American taxpayers.
So, let’s take a look at these dollars and cents.
According to a recent analysis done by Chris Conover, an American Enterprise Institute adjunct scholar, “all told, Americans cross-subsidize health care for unauthorized immigrants to the tune of $18.5 billion a year.”
Although current federal policy prohibits federal tax funding of health care to unauthorized immigrants through Medicaid or Obamacare, “rough estimates suggest that the nation’s 3.9 million uninsured immigrants who are unauthorized likely receive about $4.6 billion in health services paid for by federal taxes, $2.8 billion in health services financed by state and local taxpayers and another $3 billion bankrolled through ‘cost-shifting,’ i.e. higher payments by insured patients to cover hospital uncompensated care losses, and roughly $1.5 billion in physician charity care,” Mr. Conover wrote in Forbes.
Public education of illegal immigrants’ children is also hemorrhaging the American taxpayer, as under federal law, all students are eligible to receive schooling regardless of their immigration status.
“Public education is where the real big cost comes in,” Randy Capps, the director for research for U.S. programs at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute told NBC News this year. “The amount of taxes that the parents pay on their earnings, that they pay through property taxes — passed through on their rent — it’s not going to be as much as is spent on public education for their kids and food stamps for their kids.”
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) estimated it cost public schools $59.8 billion to educate the children of illegal immigrants, and almost the entirety of this cost, 98.9 percent, is borne by taxpayers at the local and state level, through property taxes, according to a 2016 study.
At the time, the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were driving increased funding programs for students with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) — causing a major drain on school budgets. That was when 118,929 unaccompanied minors were crossing the border during the fiscal year. Already this year, 44,779 unaccompanied alien minors have crossed the border and 248,197 family units, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
More people have been apprehended illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border this fiscal year than in any year since 2009, according to the CBP.
Then there’s the human cost of the drug crisis. In fiscal 2018, the U.S. border patrol seized 480,000 pounds of drugs, including fentanyl, marijuana and meth, on the U.S.-Mexico border. In January, the CBP saw the largest seizure of fentanyl in the agency’s history — seizing nearly $4.6 million, or 650 pounds, of fentanyl and meth from a Mexican national when he attempted to cross the border.
Drug overdoses, fueled by opioids killed more than 70,000 people in the U.S. in 2017, with fentanyl overdose deaths doubling each and every year.
Can Mexico do more? Absolutely. Mexico needs to do a better job securing its own southern border — which runs only 150 miles across. It also can do a better job cracking down on its domestic terror organizations — both the coyotes smuggling young children across the border and the drug kingpins. Lastly, Mexico could grant asylum to migrants within its own homeland. According to international law, if you leave a country seeking asylum, you are to seek asylum in the first safe country you arrive. Mexico is safe, and the Mexican government can address this.
That’s perhaps why Mexican officials were so quick to speak with U.S. officials after the president threatened his 5 percent tariff. Sometimes, a stick is better than a carrot.
And as for the price of an avocado? I for one can afford to pass on an extra side of guacamole.
• Kelly Sadler is the communications director of America First, the official super PAC for President Donald J. Trumps 2020 re-election bid.
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