On April 19, the same day the Arizona Legislature passed the immigration measure, the state’s two Republican senators, John McCain and Jon Kyl, unveiled a new plan to secure the U.S. border with Mexico. It’s a combination of completing and improving the border fence, adding new Border Patrol agents, expanding a policy of briefly jailing illegal border crossers, and several other programs already in existence. Although there is not yet an estimate of how much it would cost, the price would be vastly less than the sums going to bailouts, the stimulus, and the planned national health care system.
[…]Start with the fence. The Secure Fence Act, passed by Congress in 2006, specified 700 miles of the Southwest border to be secured with double-layered, reinforced fencing and other physical barriers.
[…]How much would it cost? Given that much of the basic structure already exists, perhaps $1 million per mile. Revamp the whole 700 miles and it’s $700 million.
[…]Kyl and McCain would add 3,000 new Border Patrol agents. A back-of-the-envelope cost estimate is about $100 million per 1,000 new agents, so the plan would cost about $300 million. The proposal also calls for hiring more U.S. marshals, clerks, and administrative staff, which would mean more costs.
[…]Then there is the jailing program, called Operation Streamline, which sends all illegal crossers to jail for a period of 15 to 60 days. When it has been tried selected areas, it has caused the illegal crossing rates to plummet.
[…]There are other expenses. For example, McCain and Kyl want to send a few thousand National Guard troops to the border. When this was done in 2007 and 2008, it cost a total of $1 billion.
The article is a nice little primer on border security measures and associated costs. Don’t forget that illegal immigration actually costs states money for things like increased emergency room usage, increased education costs, increased crime, increased prisons, etc.
We can recover a lot of the costs for border security measures by opening up the country to highly-skilled immigrant workers who pay more in taxes than they use in services, since they are (I think) not even eligible for unemployment, medicare, medicaid or social security – they have to leave when their work term ends.
It’s a national security issue. We have enemies, we need a secure border. Particularly with a naive, weak President whose policies of moral equivalence and appeasement have encourage several attacks on US soil in the past few months.