By Betsy McCaughey- President Donald Trump launched another battle for border-wall funding on Monday, calling for $8.6 billion additional dollars in his proposed federal budget for next year. Top Democrats came out swinging, bashing a border wall as “expensive and ineffective.”
The truth is, Dems are not leveling with the public about the billions we’re already forced to spend on shelters, food, diapers, medical care and child care for migrants sneaking across the border and claiming asylum.
Not to mention the costs of public schooling and healthcare provided free to migrants once they are released into communities. The wall will pay for itself in less than two years. It’s a bargain.
Look what it costs us when a Central American teen crosses the border illegally without an adult. Uncle Sam spends a staggering $775 per day for each child housed at a shelter near Florida’s Homestead Air Reserve Base. There they have access to medical care, school and recreation. They stay, on average, 67 days at the Homestead shelter before being released to a sponsor. Do the math. That’s almost $52,000 per child.
American parents would appreciate the government spending that money on their kids. Imagine the government handing you a check for $52,000 for your teenager.
However, there are bigger costs ahead. The number of illegal border crossers just hit an 11-year high with a total of more than 76,000 during the month of February alone. U.S. and Mexican officials predict hundreds of thousands more in the coming months.
The migrants use the word “asylum” as their get-in-free card. When they say it to a border agent, they gain entry to the U.S. 80 percent of the time according to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. They are temporarily housed and eventually released with an immigration court date. But half never go on to file an asylum claim, disappearing into the U.S., said former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
They’re turning asylum into a scam. The system is meant to protect victims of persecution, such as Cubans fleeing Castro’s prisons. Now it’s overwhelmed by Central Americans escaping poverty for a lifestyle upgrade.
Legal immigrants also want to better their circumstances, but they play by the rules. What a slap in the face to see migrants jump the line.
Unfortunately, a federal appeals court just made the asylum hoax even easier. Last week, the left-leaning 9th Circuit ruled that migrants who fail to convince border authorities they face danger in their home country still have a “right” to a day in court in the U.S. That bizarre ruling won’t stand. Another circuit court ruled the opposite way in 2016, clarifying that a border agent’s decision is final and entering the U.S. is a privilege, not a right. The Supreme Court let that earlier decision stand, so count on the Supremes to reverse the 9th Circuit.
In the meantime, though, taxpayers are getting fleeced by caravans of fake asylum-seekers.Even before the latest surge, the Department of Homeland Security spent over $3 billion in 2018 sheltering and feeding illegals at the border, which is nearly double the cost from 2011.
Add to that the hundreds of millions being spent caring for unaccompanied teenagers in 130 shelters overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services.
President Trump has tried several strategies to protect taxpayers from these rip-offs. First, he barred illegal migrants from asking for asylum, requiring that asylum-seekers enter the country through official ports of entry. That would have reduced the numbers considerably. But in November, a federal district judge, also from the 9th Circuit, nixed the president’s regulation.
Then, Trump devised a “Remain in Mexico” arrangement to make Mexico the waiting room for asylum-seekers. As long as they’re south of the border, the U.S. doesn’t have to house them, and they have no “right” to public schooling and emergency medical care on our tab. The program, if successful, will save U.S. taxpayers a bundle. It’s one way Mexico is already helping to pay for the wall.
Dems claim it’s a waste to spend billions on a wall. But the facts show we can’t afford not to build it. As the cover of the president’s new budget says, “Taxpayers First.”
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York State.