Reuters estimates that The Wall for which Trump voters voted may cost as much as $21.6B, and take 3.5 years to build. The Federalist estimates that illegal immigration costs the nation $135B per year. (It’s probably safe to assume the publications have offsetting bias, so we’ll just go with their numbers.)
Using these figures, the wall costs 15% one year’s cost of illegal immigration, and has a payback period of 57 days following completion, with the assumption that an in-progress wall does not drive down illegal immigration, probably a false assumption. This also assumes, probably also incorrectly, that The Wall ends all immigration; but it also does not take into account the cost of the Border Patrol, so let’s assume those numbers offset.
What about infrastructure maintenance? According to a study done by the Voorhees Transportation Institute at Rutgers University (pdf), the maintenance costs of highways in New Jersey (the best infrastructure maintenance number I could find for large chunks of concrete) is about 24% of the cost to design and build it. With no trucks driving on it, and no frost heaves, let’s assume the maintenance cost of a southern wall to be about 1/5 of that NJ highway, or about 5%.
The Wall, then, would cost $21B, plus an additional $1B/yr. Or a ten-year cost of $31B. In that same period (using constant dollars), illegal immigration (assuming it stays the same) would cost the taxpayers $1350B, or $1.35T.
Savings to the taxpayer in gross (constant) dollars – not counting the cultural changes wrought by millions more low-skill, mostly illiterate immigrants – over that ten-year span would be approximately $1.32T.
Democrats, therefore, are arguing that a savings of $132B per year, is a poor investment.
I guess it’s “crumbs.”
Probably because it’s our kids, not their (nonexistent) kids that will be seeing the cost – or not.
Here’s what it looks like in a graph: