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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: GOP clearly didn’t run the numbers on deportation response

Donald Trump and other various GOP presidential candidates have made headlines in recent weeks for their proposed policies on immigration, an issue directly affecting Arizona and Tucson. Trump has opted for some of the more extreme measures, which include building a wall along the border with Mexico and instantly deporting the more than 11 million immigrants who currently live in the U.S. illegally.

His argument is that paying for housing, health care and education for illegal immigrants will cost taxpayers “hundreds of billions of dollars,” according to, and claims that their deportation will alleviate the financial burden placed on state and local governments.

Instead, however, such a simple, blanket solution to an incredibly complex problem would result in a host of other issues that would then have to be addressed by the governments of border states. When parents are deported, for example, their children who were born on American soil — and thus have American citizenship — are often taken from their parents and placed into state foster care. This occurs because adults who are taken by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement must wait in detention centers for their deportation to be processed. Their kids, as a result, are unable to communicate with their family and are instead taken into Child Protective Services.

According to a report from the Urban Institute and Migration Policy Institute, more than 500,000 parents were deported between 2009 and 2013, leaving around 5,100 children in foster care. Foster children must be cared for by the government until they turn 18, which, rather than saving the state money, leads to additional expenses. In Arizona, according to the Arizona Daily Star, approximately 275 children in Maricopa County foster care and 130 in Pima County foster care have a parent who has been deported.

Additionally, according to the Daily Star, “Arizona pays licensed foster parents up to $32.57 a day to care for a child, and more if the child has significant medical needs,” meaning one child would cost the state over $11,000 per year in care. What’s more is that the $32.57 does not account for health care, judicial proceedings or case management. Multiply that by the thousands of children whose parents have been deported, and it becomes apparent that foster care alone costs tens of millions of dollars per year solely for children.

What is worse is that parents face significant challenges in regaining custody of their children once they are removed from the U.S. Among many challenges for parents, reports a 2011 study on immigration done by professor Nina Rabin in the UA College of Law, include “communication, ability to participate in court proceedings, access to parenting classes and ability to attend scheduled visitations with their children.” Widespread deportation of parents not only costs the government ridiculous sums of money, but also tears children from parents perfectly capable of caring for them.

Trump’s solution, of course, is to eliminate the birthright citizenship policy enumerated in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. If children weren’t guaranteed automatic citizenship, he argues, it would discourage illegal immigration and allow children to be detained and deported, as well. But, according to a study done by the Pew Research Center in 2011 and published on, more than 55 percent of immigrants questioned said that “economic opportunities” were their primary reason for entering the U.S.

Rather than develop an effective, practical plan for the United States’ immigration problem, Trump has simply chosen an easy, attention-grabbing “solution,” which will result in more problems than it fixes. Between the building of a wall, costs associated with deporting millions of people, the extra money that would be spent on immigration enforcement and the state expenditures for immigrant children in foster care, such a plan would cost taxpayers millions or possibly billions. Rather than attempt to herd them away like cattle, a more effective policy should embrace pathways to citizenship and help those seeking opportunities for a better life in the U.S. After all, that’s the American way.

Follow Cooper Temple on Twitter.

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