Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has made two specific proposals purportedly aimed at safeguarding the Homeland. Presumably, these will be incorporated into the Republican party platform. How would those proposals be implemented and how much would implementation cost?
In order to assess costs, it is necessary to first lay out how to operationalize the goal of complete removal of all undocumented immigrants. In order for the solution to be complete, documentation of all individuals in the US would be required. That in turn would necessitate development and maintenance of a permanent national database incorporating documentation of location of birth. This would not be sufficient to complete Trump’s objective, if in fact citizenship is not based on location of birth (i.e., ending birthright citizenship , aka Jus Soli).
Current estimates of the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States (based on the current definition of citizenship, Jus Solis) center around 11.5 million . Mass removal of this number of individuals would likely require centers to at least temporarily detain, isolate and then process the deportees. This presumes that speedy expulsion of deportees can be effected. If not, then the detention centers might involve holding population over more extended periods.
The American Action Forum has estimated a 20 year fiscal cost for removal at between $400 to $600 billion. . That figure does not include supply side reductions in potential output arising from a reduced labor force; nor does it include costs of modifying the US-Mexico and/or US-Canada border walls.
More discussion here.
Barring Muslim Entrants
Mr. Trump has proposed that no Muslims be allowed to enter the United States, for some period yet to be determined. Since there is no exception indicated for US citizens, proper implementation requires that the national authority develop a registry of religious affiliation. In order to prevent individuals from circumventing the rules by providing false information, some means of verifying religious affiliation would be necessary for all US residents. (This is necessary because in order to determine who can be allowed to return to the United States after traveling abroad, religious affiliation of all US residents must be determined ahead of time). I am not aware of specific measures that have been proposed. One plausible method would be intensive interrogation combined with polygraph. Subjecting all US residents to such a procedure would be costly, but seems the only feasible way in which to prevent any travel of any Muslim into the US.
A similar means of assessing the religious affiliation of all individuals wishing to transit the United States could also be implemented.
One cost saving measure could be achieved by combining the national database registry on citizenship with the database on religious affiliation.
No cost estimates have been developed, to my knowledge, of implementing all aspects of such a policy. Some estimates have been generated for the cost in terms of lost travel from Middle Eastern/North African countries; one estimate is at $18.4 billion per year . That estimate does not include screening costs, etc. It is merely the estimated cost of diverted travel (which enters the NIPA as an export). Additional discussion here.
It is interesting to note that a de jure travel ban based on religious affiliation is unprecedented in US history (of course, religious-based discrimination has been implemented in other countries at other times). Immigration bans on geographic origin do have some precedent, including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 , and the National Origins Act of 1924, which applied to individuals of Japanese ancestry. In the former instance, US citizens of Chinese descent who left the United States were then denied the right to return, so there is precedent. Subsequent legislation clarified the restriction to apply to all ethnic Chinese regardless of national origin.
Addendum, 5/30, 7PM Pacific: Anybody pondering Donald Trump’s dedication to implementing policies aimed at certain ethnic and religious minorities should pay heed to his recent condemnation of a Federal judge:
Trump himself said at a rally that U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel “happens to be, we believe, Mexican,”