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Thomas Gallatin / May 31, 2019

What's More Expensive: Tariffs or Illegals?

The president says he will raise tariffs on Mexico until the flow of migrants stops.

How much does illegal immigration cost American taxpayers every year? Some estimates put that total conservatively at $116 billion annually for housing, education, health care, etc. And with the humanitarian crisis on our border exploding, as a growing number of Central and South American migrant caravans cross through Mexico on their way to the U.S. southern border, the costs are increasing exponentially.

President Donald Trump upped the pressure on the Mexican government to stop the flow of migrants by announcing a 5% tariff on all goods from Mexico.

The president explained: “For decades, the United States has suffered the severe and dangerous consequences of illegal immigration. Sadly, Mexico has allowed this situation to go on for many years. … From a safety, national security, military, economic, and humanitarian standpoint, we cannot allow this grave disaster to continue. The current state of affairs is profoundly unfair to the American taxpayer, who bears the extraordinary financial cost imposed by large-scale illegal migration. Even worse is the terrible and preventable loss of human life. Mexico must step up and help solve this problem. … My highest duty is the defense of the country and its citizens. A nation without borders is not a nation at all. I will not stand by and allow our sovereignty to be eroded, our laws to be trampled, or our borders to be disrespected anymore.”

Trump further noted the toll of illegal immigration on Americans, stating: “Thousands of innocent lives are taken every year as a result of this lawless chaos. It must end NOW! … Mexico’s passive cooperation in allowing this mass incursion constitutes an emergency and extraordinary threat to the national security and economy of the United States.”

Trump said the tariffs, set to begin on June 10, would remain “until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP.” He added, “The Tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied … at which time the Tariffs will be removed.”

The president is exactly right in his criticisms. And we’d argue that legitimate concerns about the cost of new tariffs are significantly outweighed by the annual cost of illegal immigration. In fact, were the flow of illegals through Mexico into the U.S. to stop, it would present significant savings for taxpayers.

Mexico’s socialist president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (nicknamed AMLO), a disciple of Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, and Hugo Chávez, responded to Trump with this collectivist claptrap: “‘America First’ is a fallacy because until the end of times, even beyond national borders, justice and universal fraternity will prevail. … Social problems are not solved with duties or coercive measures.” We’ll see.

However, there actually are questions as to how effectively the Mexican government can act to stop the flow of illegals, as human trafficking has become a lucrative industry of the powerful drug cartels. Meanwhile, in the U.S., Trump has been repeatedly hindered in his efforts to secure the southern border by the Democrat cartel of politicians, activist judges, and Leftmedia fake news. Trump’s latest action is a new tactic to get around the Democrats’ roadblock.

(Updated.)

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