Beyond the human cost, the economic costs to American society from mass deportations are equally stark. The direct costs to the taxpayers for enforcement agents, detention facilities, immigration judges and transportation amounts to about $70 billion. In addition, the progressive Center for American Progress estimates some $4.7 trillion in lost economic output and nearly a trillion dollars in lost tax revenue over the next decade, while the conservative American Action Forum calculates some $2.6 trillion in lower GDP over 10 years. These estimates are on top of the billions of dollars that building and maintaining a wall would cost.
The Trump administration’s proposal to accelerate deportations of alleged criminals is also a cruel hoax on the American people. First of all, the best social science research suggests that there’s nowhere near as many so-called criminals in the undocumented population as the administration claims. Experts project that perhaps 7 percent of the undocumented have committed any offense—mainly nonviolent, minor offenses—and fewer than 3 percent have been convicted of felonies. Second, efforts to target deportations at criminals inevitably catch huge swaths of others into the net. As a New York Times analysis of deportations over the 2009–2014 period found, two-thirds of deportations involved “people who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all.” No one believes that the current administration will be more careful than its predecessor in prioritizing serious criminals for removals.
Similarly, attempts to transform local law enforcement into immigration agents have proven to undermine community safety because they lead to distrust in the police, one of the reasons many voices in the law enforcement community oppose the policy. Contrary to the administration’s “alternative facts,” nothing prevents local police, including in sanctuary cities, from detaining dangerous criminals. The attack against sanctuary cities is simply an attempt to give cover to racial profiling practices and indiscriminate targeting of immigrants who are not engaged in criminal behavior.
In response, NCLR and its nearly 300 local Affiliates, in unity with allies in the civil rights community, will do everything in its power to protect and defend Latinos and other vulnerable Americans from this administration’s unwise and divisive policies. Specifically, we will:
- Mobilize our Affiliates at the grassroots level to work with city and state officials to oppose the draconian Trump agenda.
- Strengthen and deepen national alliances across racial groups to speak out against Trump’s scorched-earth policies.
- Call on allies in Congress to use every procedural tool possible to resist movement of legislation supporting Trump’s agenda.
- Work through the courts to serve their traditional role as a check on executive actions.
- Build a larger, more engaged and informed Latino electorate to exercise our community’s power at the ballot box in 2018 and beyond, to support elected officials who recognize that diversity is a strength, not a weakness.