One of the biggest areas of disagreement on the wall is its cost efficiency.
Republicans claim it will save us money by preventing the need to support illegal immigrants who enter the US, while Democrats argue the wall is just too expensive to ever be a cost efficient approach to addressing illegal immigration. I'm looking for hard numbers regarding this claim. Can we compare the potential costs to potential savings and figure out whether it has a positive ROI (return on investment)?
For now I'm trying to look at a few things:
- Long term costs after the wall is built (total construction cost, maintenance, repairs, staffing, etc.).
- To get an idea of potential economic benefit, if any, after being built as a result of the wall doing its intended job.
- Perhaps, if applicable, how many years it would take to recoup the cost of building the wall based off of money saved in the previous point.
On one side I'm looking for the most accurate number on cost savings on lowering illegal immigration. What does the government estimate the cost of illegal immigration to be currently? What is the economic gain or loss per year on preventing illegal immigrants from entering the US? What are the numbers if we presume the wall hypothetically stops 100% of Mexican non-overstay illegal immigration? It's unlikely any action will stop 100% of illegal immigration, so can you cite any source(s) that give a more reasonable percentage expected to be stopped by the wall if built and what that equates to in potential costs/savings?
On the other side of the calculation, what would be the cost of maintaining the wall, i.e. manning it, repairing damage to it, and generally keeping the wall functional after it is built? How would this maintenance cost compare to the economic impact on the US citizens in stopping some illegal immigration?
Since we're looking at long term costs here, the original cost of building the wall is only relevant in the lost opportunity cost (in layman's terms, what benefit would we get out of the money if we spent it elsewhere). You are welcome to try to include opportunity cost as a factor for 'costs' of the wall. That is assuming you can find a valid way of measuring it, it's hard to place an opportunity cost on a less-than-rational government budget since assuming money not spent on the wall would go to a cost effective alternative, rather then being wasted on some inefficient endeavor, is not always a safe assumption. Though I suppose claiming the interest on the national debt, on the argument the money used for the wall would otherwise not be spent and thus pay off (or not require borrowing against) the debt, would probably be a semi-valid minimum estimation of opportunity cost.
I'm looking for hard numbers from cited sources or valid statistical calculations for this question, some degree of rigor to prove the accuracy of claims. I am looking only at direct financial cost of building the wall, I'm not interested in any other claimed advantages/disadvantages of the wall, such as environmental impact, or whether the wall will lower crime from illegal immigrants, I've already asked a question about that latter claim.
I would like answers that can say whether the wall was cost effective before the government shutdown nonsense started. If for some reason you really wanted to address how the government shutdown changes the numbers you can, but I'd like to know what the anticipated ROI would have been even if government shutdown never occurred.