Trump’s immigration order disastrous for America economy
© Getty Images

President Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMore than two-thirds of Americans approve of Biden's coronavirus response: poll Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor Mexico's president tests positive for COVID-19 MORE’s Jan. 25 executive order's enforcement “priorities” include the removal of serious criminals and national security risks, but virtually every other undocumented immigrant as well. For good measure, the order calls for the “execution of the immigration laws...against all removable aliens.”

A report released by the Center for Migration Studies illustrates just how disastrous such a policy would be  for US citizens, the housing market, and the broader economy.

ADVERTISEMENT

The report covers primarily the effect of a mass deportation policy on mixed-status households,  i.e., those with both a US citizen child and an undocumented resident, typically a parent. It relies on estimates of the U.S. undocumented population developed by CMS Senior Fellow and the report’s lead author Robert Warren. It finds that:

  • Nearly two-thirds of the undocumented have resided in the United States for ten or more years.
  • 5.3 million US households contain undocumented residents, including 3.3 million mixed-status households in the United States in 2014.
  • 6.6 million US-born citizens share 3 million households with undocumented residents (mostly their parents).
  • Of these US-born citizens, 5.7 million are children (under age 18). 2.9 million undocumented residents were 14 years old or younger when they were brought to the United States.
  • Three-quarters of a million undocumented residents are self-employed, having created their own jobs, and in the process creating jobs for many others.
  • A total of 1.3 million, or 13 percent of the undocumented over age 18, have college degrees.
  • Of those with college degrees, two thirds, or 855,000, have degrees in four fields: engineering, business, communications, and social sciences.
  • Six million, or 55 percent of the total, speak English well, very well, or only English.
  • Seventy-three percent had incomes at or above the poverty level.
  • Their median household income was $41,000, about $12,700 lower than the national  figure of $53,700 in 2014 (US Census Bureau 2015).

To engage in the large-scale deportation of this population would exact immense social costs. In  particular, the report estimates that to remove US undocumented residents from mixed-status  households would reduce their median household income from $41,300 to $22,000, a drop of $19,300, or 47 percent, which would plunge millions of US families into poverty. 

The situation of the US citizen children left behind would be particularly grim. 

The report assumes that one-third of US-born children would remain in the United States following the deportation of an undocumented household member and that potential deportees now account for 50 percent of the support for these children.

Based on these conservative assumptions, CMS estimates that the total (unmet) cost of raising these US-citizens children to maturity (without their deported parents) would be an astronomical $118 billion.

The project also projects that mass deportation would lead to defaults on a large percentage of the 2.4 million mortgages held by households with undocumented immigrants. To put this danger to the U.S. housing market into perspective, there were just under 3 million foreclosure filings each year in 2009 and 2010, at the height of the housing crisis.

In addition, according to a recent study by economists Ryan Edwards and Francesc Ortega, mass deportation would also reduce gross domestic product (GDP) by 1.4 percent in the first year, and $4.7 trillion over 10 years.

Center for Migration Studies has consistently made the case for a broad legalization program based on the U.S. undocumented population’s long tenure (1.9 million have resided in the US for 20 years or more), eligibility for a visa (4.4 million have been tentatively approved for family-based visas, but languish in visa backlogs), immense economic contributions (7.6 million are in the labor force), and strong equitable ties to the United States.

The paper illustrates the importance of keeping mixed-status families intact, whether through executive action or, far better, a legalization program for their undocumented members. Such a program would benefit far more than the undocumented.  

As the report indicates, the alternative would be disastrous.

Donald M. Kerwin, Jr. has directed the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) since September 2011. He previously worked for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. 

Robert Warren is senior visiting fellow at the Center for Migration Studies He served as a demographer with the United States Census Bureau and served as director of what was the Immigration and Naturalization Service Statistics Division from 1986 to 1995.


The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.