Deporting Illegal Aliens: A Lot of Buses

Foreign Policy editor Preeti Aroon highlights this factoid from the latest FP Quiz:

illegal-alien-bus-convoyIf the United States deported all its illegal immigrants at once, how long would the bus convoy be?

a) 18 miles b) 180 miles c) 1,800 miles

Answer:

C, 1,800. To deport the 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States en masse, it would take more than 200,000 buses, stretching more than 1,800 miles, according to a December 2009 Center for American Progress (CAP) report. (I did the math, and that would amount to 47.5 feet per bus and 60 people per bus. Of course, in real life, some people would have to be sent home via airplane.)

The cost would be nearly $300 billion over five years, the think tank estimates. (I did the math again, and that would be 110 buses per day at a cost of $25,000 per illegal immigrant, which presumably includes the costs of apprehension, detention, legal proceedings, and transport, based on the methodology in this 2005 CAP report, which uses older numbers.)

Not to mention: Good luck rounding them up and getting them on the bus.  And keeping them in Mexico once they got there.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Brett says:

    And keeping them in Mexico once they got there.

    This. The way you see some deportation advocates talk, it’s like the illegal immigrants will just disappear once they’re on the other side of the border.

    In reality, of course, dumping 12 million people over a short period of time into Mexico’s labor market would be absolutely chaotic for them, and would likely lead to immense economic and political instability, leading to . . . more illegal immigration.

  2. Nat says:

    And this assumes that all illegal immigrants are from Mexico, which is a bit presumptuous.

  3. Nat says:
  4. TangoMan says:

    Wow, intellectual standards at Foreign Policy have really dropped quite low.

    What’s next? Here’s a question that they could research – “If in one gulp you had to fill your lungs with all of the air that you would breath over a typical lifetime how large would your lungs have to be?”

  5. James Joyner says:

    What’s next? Here’s a question that they could research – “If in one gulp you had to fill your lungs with all of the air that you would breath over a typical lifetime how large would your lungs have to be?”

    I’m not sure how that’s a useful analogy.

    FP (or, actually, CAP, who did the study) isn’t arguing that the illegals would have to be rounded up in one instance. They’re illustrating how big the problem is.

  6. TangoMan says:

    The cost would be nearly $300 billion over five years, the think tank estimates. (I did the math again, and that would be 110 buses per day at a cost of $25,000 per illegal immigrant, which presumably includes the costs of apprehension, detention, legal proceedings, and transport, based on the methodology in this 2005 CAP report, which uses older numbers.)

    Still a bargain. This works out to $25,000 per illegal alien. In in this time of fiscal restraint in the LA Unified School District it still costs $19,654 per year to educate one student.

    As the National Academy of Science found after two exhaustive studies back in the 90s illegal aliens are huge subsidy magnets – over their lifetimes they actually impose costs, beyond what they contribute, on society of over $140,000.

    If we recognize that our young people should stay in school because high school drop-outs are quite likely to be net recipients of social aid over their lifetimes, then how on earth is it a good idea to welcome people from another nation who’ve invaded our country, most of whom have only 6-8 years of education and don’t speak English.

    Spending $25,000 per alien in order to rid ourselves of a $140,000 obligation and to forestall the imposition of other costs when that alien has children who will require social subsidies is a bargain by any standard.

    On a closing note, the ploy used by this writer is pretty transparent, in that it completely discounts the well documented phenomenon of self-deportation. We saw it with the massive exodus of Pakistani illegal aliens back in 2001 and once we start enforcing our laws again we’ll see a segment of the Latin American illegal alien population deport. Then as the process of apprehending illegals starts in earnest, the incentive for self-deportation will become greater. Ridding society of uninvited invaders will be a process of forced deportation and self-deportation.

  7. TangoMan says:

    FP (or, actually, CAP, who did the study) isn’t arguing that the illegals would have to be rounded up in one instance. They’re illustrating how big the problem is.

    I get that. What’s the point though? If you had to construct the Pentagon in one day that would look like a monumental task, wouldn’t it? Would any serious construction engineer present a paper which posed such a scenario, even if to illustrate the size of the task? How about if a police chief went and told the citizens of his city that they would have to build 30x their existing number of jails if he arrested, on the same day, every person who was breaking the law within the city. How useful is that type of rhetorical construction?

    What I got from the piece was that this was a rhetorical trick designed to amplify the scale of the task in order to dissuade action on law enforcement.

  8. James Joyner says:

    How about if a police chief went and told the citizens of his city that they would have to build 30x their existing number of jails if he arrested, on the same day, every person who was breaking the law within the city. How useful is that type of rhetorical construction?

    Pretty damned useful, actually. It illustrates how out of sync our laws are with our lifestyles.

  9. TangoMan says:

    Pretty damned useful, actually. It illustrates how out of sync our laws are with our lifestyles.

    Touche. However, that point is orthogonal to the point that I intended the chief to make, which was that policing is an ongoing activity and like deportation, you can’t capture criminals all at once, house them in a jail all at once, process them through a court hearing all at once. These systems are designed for steady throughput not massive surges.

  10. Doing some very quick math, at $100,000 per bus, and that’s assuming each bus is only used once, that’s $90B. Between that and a border fence, sounds like a couple of “shovel ready” projects the Stimulus money could be used for that would actually benefit America.

  11. FWIW, the buses may be 47 feet long, but any convoy, as in the picture, has to assume some interval between them, so either the convoy can be 1800 miles long or the buses placed end to end can be 1800 miles long, but not both.

    Honestly, this is another perfect being the enemy of the good strawman. An honest effort to deport 12,000,000 illegal immigrants won’t actually get all 12,000,000, but something approaching 80-90% would make a helluva difference.

    Finally, IIRC we went through this amnesty for illegals “for the very last time and never, ever again” about 30 years ago, so I have no faith that any politicians can ever be trusted on this front. Fundamentally, I have three questions. 1) Do we have borders or not? 2) Does citizenshiup have any requirements or not? 3) How do we the people get the existing government to enforce the existing laws?

  12. floyd says:

    $25,000 per bus ticket just explains why we can NEVER trust BIG FAT STUPID BLOATED INCOMPETENT GOVERNMENT.
    Twelve million is a JOKE estimate.1800 miles is only a fraction of the convoy required.
    This article puts the lie to the thinking of those fifth columnists who have supported this HOSTILE INVASION,calling it harmless emigration by a few people deserving our pity.
    PSHAW!!

  13. Rick Almeida says:

    Despite all this, I haven’t heard any of the anti-illegal activists call for reducing demand for illegal labor by making it a serious felony to employ or hire an illegal immigrant.

    When I start to hear them advocate that publicly, I’ll begin to take them more seriously.

  14. mannning says:

    My model for deporting illegal aliens is what we did in a few years, say 1941-1945, during WWII. We had some 10 million or more servicemen and women that we transported multiple times both inside the US and overseas. We fed, clothed, trained and housed them, and saw them to where they were to perform as soldiers. For the illegals, we needn’t clothe and train them, so those elements of cost would be zeroed out.

    We used all forms of transport in the war for our soldiers, including busses, trains, trucks, airplanes, ships and personal autos(perfect for self-deportation!), and it covered most of six years until our troops were back home.

    A ship could hold, house, feed and transport perhaps 10 to 15 thousand people at a crack, which would be far more economical than renting busses alone. One ship could do some 36 trips per year at an average 10-day turnaround time, resulting in over a half million people sent home per year per ship. Using 10 troopships, this would result in about 5 million illegals returned per year, so something around 3 years or less would do the job, depending on the number of self-deportations.

    Obviously, we would have to use all forms of transport to send the illegals to the many ports around the nation. If we allowed a lot of baggage per person and per family, this might increase the time to complete somewhat, so it might take 4 to 5 years.

    This 10-ship, 5-year program would be a bargain!

  15. TangoMan says:

    Despite all this, I haven’t heard any of the anti-illegal activists call for reducing demand for illegal labor by making it a serious felony to employ or hire an illegal immigrant.

    When I start to hear them advocate that publicly, I’ll begin to take them more seriously.

    I doubt you’ve even spent a second searching. The Center for Immigration Studies is all over the topic. They’ve got policy papers on abuse of the H-1B worker visa, they’ve documented the abuse that farmers visit on the society by privatizing gains and socializing losses, they’ve called for enforcement of penalties against employers, they’re supportive of E-verify, etc.

  16. In in this time of fiscal restraint in the LA Unified School District it still costs $19,654 per year to educate one student.

    They pay property taxes, just like any other renter does. And property taxes make up the vast majority of school district budgets.

    There a lot of things illegal don’t contribute towards, but they do clearly pay their share on this issue.

  17. @Manning: of course, the soldiers in question voluntarily showed up at a various locations on command.

    No minor point, that.

    @Bernard: to add to your point, they are also helping subsidize social security. The number was roughly $7 billion a year as of 2005: click.

  18. TangoMan says:

    They pay property taxes, just like any other renter does. And property taxes make up the vast majority of school district budgets.

    American citizens have entered into a mutual compact on the issue of school financing wherein there is subsidization across class and generation. Illegal aliens are not part of this compact. When poor and lower middle class American citizens pay property taxes to finance local schools, the odds are quite high that their property tax payments are not sufficient to cover to cost of educating their children. This is where the subsidization comes in.

    For you to posit that illegal aliens who pay property taxes are not imposing a net cost on society in regards to educating the children of illegal aliens is a very disingenuous argument. This is like arguing that when a group from a community-level softball club go out for pizza and they all chip into the pot to pay for their equal allocation of pizza slices, the person who chips in $1 is fairly contributing to the same extent as the person who’s chipping in $10, basically the price for the pizza that they consumed.

  19. Iben Watchen You says:

    It’d be worth the money just to see all those elitist crap weasel liberal heads explode …..

  20. TangoMan says:

    to add to your point, they are also helping subsidize social security.

    That’s a half-truth. All of their contributions, even those made under false identity, are eligible for reimbursement or social security benefit once the already negotiated US-Mexico Totalization Treaty is ratified.

    We have these treaties with scores of countries and when, say, a German citizen comes to work in the US and they contribute to Social Security and Medicare, those contributions are not lost to them when they retire or when they leave to go back to Germany. Those contributions are subject to the provision of the US-Germany Totalization Treaty.

  21. floyd says:

    When you have 25-30 Illegals renting a 2bdrm apt.
    Then demanding non-English language teaching and books in our schools…
    Hardly a recipe to “clearly pay their share on this issue.”

    I agree that the employer should be held criminally responsible.
    Next time you sign a contract to build a house, put on a roof, drywall a room, or to landscape your yard…. Get it in the CONTRACT to exclude illegal labor and report violations to the authorities and the Better Business Bureau.

  22. JKB says:

    This little mental exercise is a perfect reason why the Arizona law is the way to go. Sure their will be some deportations but far more will leave since illicit employers are being hounded, social services must verify immigration status, and law enforcement are required to investigate reasonable suspicion. Why put them on a bus when you can just make it impossible for them to stay?

    Of course, the real solution is not forcing them out nor amnesty but rather a guest worker program to manage entry, work and eventual departure.

  23. anjin-san says:

    A ship could hold, house, feed and transport perhaps 10 to 15 thousand people at a crack, which would be far more economical than renting busses alone. One ship could do some 36 trips per year at an average 10-day turnaround time, resulting in over a half million people sent home per year per ship. Using 10 troopships, this would result in about 5 million illegals returned per year, so something around 3 years or less would do the job, depending on the number of self-deportations.

    Yep. And 90% of the people who are deported will be back here in 2 weeks.

  24. anjin-san says:

    Of course, the real solution is not forcing them out nor amnesty but rather a guest worker program to manage entry, work and eventual departure

    Now that sounds like a decent idea.

  25. TangoMan says:

    Of course, the real solution is not forcing them out nor amnesty but rather a guest worker program to manage entry, work and eventual departure.

    A solution to which problem? Surely you’re not advocating that a guest worker program is a solution to this problem:

    “By 2002, one of every four black men in the U.S. was idle all year long. This idleness rate was twice as high as that of white and Hispanic males.”

    It’s possible the rate of idleness is even higher, said the lead author of the study, Andrew Sum, who is director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.

    “That was a conservative count,” he said. The study did not consider homeless men or those in jail or prison. It is believed that up to 10 percent of the black male population under age 40 is incarcerated.

    While some of the men not working undoubtedly were ill or disabled, the 25 percent figure is still staggeringly high. And for some segments of the black male population, the situation is even worse.

    Among black male dropouts, for example, 44 percent were idle year-round, as were nearly 42 of every 100 black men aged 55 to 64.

    Look, I get it, the evidence is abundantly clear, many employers would rather hire illegal hispanic aliens than African American males. I’m sure that they have their reasons. The problem with your solution is that it aids and abets a purposeful harm being directed at the American underclass, which overlaps with race to a large extent.

    I also get that many liberals feel more comfortable with having Hispanic gardeners and housekeepers rather than employing African Americans because Hispanics don’t tickle the guilt complex that liberals have with respect to Blacks who work for them. The problem here is that when we cater to these liberal sensitivities by importing a “menial class” we’re not replacing the existing American underclass, which significantly overlaps with race, we’re displacing that underclass out of the workforce and onto social welfare rolls or other less desirable outcomes.

    Instead of catering to employer interests by importing workers while we have a 44% yearlong idleness rate amongst black high school drop-outs what we should be doing is creating labor scarcity thereby incentivizing the hiring of these idle men.

    The only time, in my opinion, when we should be considering a guest worker program is when the workforce participation rate for Black men is equal to that of White men or Asian men. We shouldn’t be disadvantaging American citizens in favor of foreign nationals.

  26. An Interested Party says:

    I also get that many liberals feel more comfortable with having Hispanic gardeners and housekeepers rather than employing African Americans because Hispanics don’t tickle the guilt complex that liberals have with respect to Blacks who work for them.

    Hmm, since we are engaging in a bit of psychoanalysis, perhaps we could say that many conservatives feel more comfortable with having Hispanic gardeners and housekeepers rather than employing African Americans because Hispanics aren’t as dark or threatening to conservatives as opposed to Blacks who work for them…

  27. anjin-san says:

    Anybody else get the sense that tango’s concern for blacks is, ahem… complete BS?

  28. TangoMan says:

    Anybody else get the sense that tango’s concern for blacks is, ahem… complete BS?

    Nice dodging of the issue. Let me save you time on your speculation – what I write is what I mean.

    Look, I know that dudes like you are all invested in believing yourself to be more compassionate than dudes like me, but I would love for you, or any of your fellow travelers to actually engage on one question that is always sidestepped in the Amnesty debate – how can you reconcile your concern for the welfare of illegal aliens with the harm caused to the American underclass, especially the Black underclass, by a loosened unskilled labor market? Frankly, I think plenty of liberals are engaged in shallow thinking on this issue because all they focus on is the underdog illegal alien and they want to give them Amnesty thereby proving to themselves that they are compassionate people but by doing so they’re completely ignoring the harm that results from their compassionate gesture.

    It really, in my mind, comes down to a choice between the welfare of African-Americans (mostly men, the unskilled and idle) and the welfare of foreigners who come here uninvited. Choose. If you don’t want to choose, the explain how you’re squaring the circle in your mind.

  29. superdestroyer says:

    The cheap labor Republicans who have all drank the Karl Rove kool-aid cannot pass up the chance to spit in the face of middle class Americans.

    Those illegal immigratns will eventually be auto Democratic Party voters who will demand higher taxes on middle class and upper middle class whites to fund programs that they benefit.

    America has a choice of have open borders and unlimited immigration, having race based government programs, and having massive entitlements. You get to pick one. The karl Roves of the world keep trying to pick all three because they believe it will pander to Hispanics and keep RINOs in political office.

    Of course, the long run is that it turns the U.S. into South-Central LA or El Paso where there are no safe places for whites to live.

  30. An Interested Party says:

    Ahhh…in the past, it was about protecting whites, specifically white women, from the black hordes and preventing able-bodied young bucks from using food stamps to buy steaks paid for by those decent but abused middle-class white people …now it is about protecting whites from the Hispanic hordes and their potential grabbing of resources from those same whites…I guess some things never change…

  31. Tango is quite right. Numerous studies have demonstrated the the group most hurt economically by illegal immigration is African-American males. There is solid longitudinal data on this, as well as comparative data across regions with significant variation in rates of illegal immigration.

  32. Well, actually, I need to qualify that. Studies show that illegal immigration does depress wage rates and full-time employment of low-skill workers, which disproportionally affects African-American workers.

    NBER and others have good research on this.

  33. floyd says:

    Tangoman,
    Don’t fall for it! There are those who comment here who just want you to get disgusted with the childish lack of engagement,and the unfounded insults, so that you will quit posting.
    Keep up the contrast! Thanks.

  34. Nat says:

    Curious: Are you suggesting that if the illegals who pick the crops are sent away (because this debate seems to have focussed entirely on illegals from Mexico) that inner city African American males will take those jobs? How does that work?

    I’m not sure that the hiring has anything to do with guilt, but a lot to do with who is marketing themselves for those jobs.

  35. Wayne says:

    Re “Yep. And 90% of the people who are deported will be back here in 2 weeks”

    Not if we get control of our border. If we don’t get control of our borders and illegal immigration, we will have millions more crossing our border.
    I agree that the main way to stem illegal immigration is to make the situation less appeasing for them including cracking down on their employers. Even then we still need to gain control of our borders for security reasons.

    I agree the article attempts to show by cheap tricks that the task is so massive that it is not worth doing. Most intelligent people see right through that ploy. Unfortunately there are many not so intelligent types that fall for it.

  36. mannning says:

    Well, I didn’t go into the full solution as I see it, but here are a few of its elements:

    Closing the border securely by all practical means is obviously the first step, and it has been for years. It would seem that every President from Reagan on has flubbed the ball on this, along with their Congresses. Footdragging has been characteristic of all of these administrations and the Congress. Seems to indicate a serious problem in executing the majority will, perhaps through back-door influence.

    This program should be propagated throughout the nation, giving illegals notice that they will henceforth be deported immediately when found.

    Amnesty is not on, in my book, either, with a few possible types of exceptions for reasons of humanity.

    An itenerant worker (IW) program should be able to be created that ensures that our laws are obeyed, including positive and safe ID’s, and prompt return home after the work permit expires. It takes the will to succeed.

    We should police employers thoroughly, and fine them stiffly if they hire illegals. If they hire IW’s, they should be held financially responsible to see the IW’s timely return, and employers should hire private police if necessary to ensure their responsibilities are met.

    Just why we should give IW’s or illegals a route to citizenship, I cannot understand. There is or was a standard procedure for legal immigration, and it should be used. Perhaps the quotas can be adjusted, and the Anchor Baby idea squashed. A full overhaul of the INS and the State Department must be done to ensure their complete and timely cooperation with the program.

    Only then could we lease vessels and other transport to see the massess of illegals home, more or less permanently.

    Mexican citizens are Mexico’s problem, not ours, any more than Canada’s citizens are, or any other nationality.

    Furthermore, I do not see the problem with using racial profiling for the reason of identifying illegal aliens, since by far the majority of illegals are Hispanics and tend to look the part.

    Obviously, we need to hire many more border guards, and to pump up the police departments all over to do their duty with respect to illegals. Stationing armed troops on the border seems practical to me also, with proper rules of engagement laid out. The use of force should not be prohibited if there is a compelling threat.

    Finally, those laws already on the books should be enforced to the maximum.

    There appears to be massive resistance to many of these elements in the nation at large, in the Administration and Congress, and in law enforcement. I have grave doubts that such a program would ever be instituted, but it is a solution we could execute.

  37. Wayne says:

    Nat
    Anyone on welfare who refuses to work needs to be taken of welfare.

    If all else fails and we need workers to pick crops, we can use legal foreign workers instead of illegal. We use harvesters from Canada and they are legal.

  38. Juneau: says:

    Tango =1 , Anjin-san = 0

  39. TangoMan says:

    Well, actually, I need to qualify that. Studies show that illegal immigration does depress wage rates and full-time employment of low-skill workers, which disproportionally affects African-American workers.

    In the labor economics literature you find that this is really a multi-part issue. The studies to which you refer examine the wage effects and employment prospects as a function of labor supply and demand. Other studies focus on how the effects are apportioned, in other words, even in an environment of increased supply of unskilled labor and the resultant downward pressure on wages, there are winners and losers. African American males are disproportionately on the losing side on this issue and one of the principal reasons is that they are competing against illegal aliens.

    I know that many cling to the myth that the greatest proportional rise in income for Blacks came after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, but in fact the greatest proportional rise in income came during the period when America had immigration restrictions. Labor scarcity in the north resulted in a massive black migration northwards and there was a boom in black employment.

    Labor scarcity had a more powerful effect on the Black community than mere legislation could ever hope to achieve.

  40. Nat says:

    Wayne,
    Tango’s research doesn’t say that they are on welfare. It says they are idle. I think they are only costing us through police enforcement, funding for jails, and urban blight.

    I wonder if hiring legal immigrants means we have to adhere to our own labor laws re: conditions and wages. If so, perhaps those jobs will be more appealing and accessible to non-immigrants who are idle, unskilled, and generally outside the legitimate labor system. Hiring the idle would be a much smaller societal cost, both in terms of connecting legal immigrants with jobs, and in giving idle hands something to do.

    I guess if you eliminate illegal workers, there would be more demand for those jobs, which would go a long way toward solving the problem.

  41. Wayne says:

    Nat
    I’m fully aware that not everyone that is unemployed is on welfare and that not everyone on welfare is classified as unemployed. However, there are plenty of people on welfare who are jobless. Also there is the prison population that can be used.

    I do acknowledge that doing so would present it set of problems. As you mention, legal wages, taxes and working condition would increase the cost of hiring legals. Also the likely of lawsuits go way up and then there are our pampering laws for prisoners.

    So basically we are encouraging illegal activities with our high minimum wages, tax and pampering laws.

  42. anjin-san says:

    Tango =1 , Anjin-san = 0

    Based on what? I am not arguing that having millions of foreign nationals in our country reduces employment opportunities for some of our citizens, the math on that is pretty basic.

    What I am arguing is that tango has proven himself to be an equal opportunity bigot and his faux concern for blacks is simply a tactic, not something he actually believes in.

  43. TangoMan says:

    What I am arguing is that tango has proven himself to be an equal opportunity bigot and his faux concern for blacks is simply a tactic, not something he actually believes in.

    If, as you claim, I’ve “proven” what you allege then you must have actually read something I’ve written which led you to reach such an erroneous conclusion. That being the case, link it, baby, link it. Show us how your judgment works on matters like this.

    I can understand how you being a creationist would see my rejection of creationism as a threat to your worldview and that’s why you consistently engage in ad hominem arguments against any point I raise, but there’s never any substance to your charges or, for that matter, your arguments.