The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Suzi Emmerling

The $285 Billion Nonsolution: The Cost of Deportation

New CAP report details the severe consequences of a deportation-only immigration policy on the nation's economy and the drain on the federal treasury.


It has been almost three years since Congress tried to reform the
nation's broken immigration system. Since then, Presidents George W.
Bush and Barack Obama have each greatly increased spending to deploy
new enforcement strategies, but enforcement alone has not worked. The
inherent dysfunction of our immigration system has deepened and the
public call for solutions has amplified.

Instead of heeding the public's demand that the immigration system
be repaired, immigration restrictionists call for deportation of the
nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants, or "deportation through
attrition," which means making life so miserable for the undocumented
and their families, that, in theory, they would simply get up and leave.

Seeking to turn the irresponsible deportation rhetoric into real dollars, a new report by the Center for American Progress, "Calculating the Costs of Mass Deportation of Undocumented Immigrants,"
details what it would cost to find and apprehend, detain, legally
process, and transport the almost 11 million undocumented people and
maintain current enforcement levels at the border and interior for five

The price tag is staggering: $285 billion.

The deportation alone would cost $200 billion, on top of the $85
billion that would be required to maintain the current enforcement
strategy for five years.

This new CAP report details the severe consequences of a
deportation-only policy on the nation's economy and the drain on the
federal treasury. Using publicly available data, the study analyzes the
costs and steps that would be required to carry out such a program--from
point of arrest through transportation out of the country. Our report
adopts conservative assumptions for key variables to ensure that the
estimated program and spending requirements are realistic and not
overstated. The findings are not just sobering; they prove that a
deportation-only immigration strategy would be the height of folly.

How much is $285 billion?

* $922 in new taxes for every man, woman, and child in this country.

* It would pay 6.7 million Americans' salaries for a year.

* Enough to hire 1 million new high school teachers and pay their salaries for five years.

Read more about what we could do with $285 billion, here.

Watch a short video that breaks down the numbers, here.

In other words, it is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

On the other side of the equation, we know that legalization of undocumented immigrants would add a cumulative $1.5 trillion in GDP
over 10 years--through increased consumer spending, higher tax receipts,
and other related factors. A deportation approach, by contrast, would
have the cumulative effect of draining $2.5 trillion over 10 years from
the U.S. economy. That is a $4 trillion swing in GDP depending on which
policy approach we adopt.

This report shows how deportation is not a solution. The answer lies in a tough, fair and practical comprehensive immigration reform that serves our national economic and security interests and values.

The following CAP immigration experts will be available today and through the weekend to provide comment and analysis.

Please contact Suzi Emmerling at or 202 344-0404 to speak with them. Para entrevistas en espanol, favor de comunicarse con Raul Arce-Contreras al o 202.478.5318.

The Center for American Progress is a think tank dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through ideas and action. We combine bold policy ideas with a modern communications platform to help shape the national debate, expose the hollowness of conservative governing philosophy and challenge the media to cover the issues that truly matter.