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April 28th, 2010
11:29 AM ET

Jobs and Population: Rethinking illegal immigration

Editor's Note: This article continues our series excerpted from AC360°'s contributor David Gewirtz's book, How To Save Jobs, which is available now. AC360° viewers can download it for free at HowToSaveJobs.org. To learn more about the book, follow David on Twitter @DavidGewirtz.

David Gewirtz | BIO
AC360° Contributor
Director, U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute

This article is a continuation of Jobs and population: Controlling population.

With all the hubbub coming from Arizona this week about the state's new immigration policies, I thought it might be interesting to share the results of some research I did last year on the subject.

While I was writing How To Save Jobs, I built a computer model to analyze the logistics of tracking down illegal immigrants and sending them home. The bottom line was simple: it would simply cost far too much and be logistically impractical to gather all 13 million people and send them home.

Let me be clear. Illegal immigrants are here illegally. They're violating the law.

What my analysis showed, however, is that it would cost America billions of dollars simply to move illegal immigrants back home - and that's after they were located, apprehended, and processed through the legal system.

Let's put the illegal immigration problem into perspective

There are about 13 million illegal immigrants living in the United States today. Thirteen million people is a lot of people. That's pretty much the population of the state of Illinois, or the population of New York City and Los Angeles combined. That's almost 5 percent of the population of the United States.

Assuming you could gather all the illegal immigrants, it would take 166,666 buses, more than 13 billion gallons of fuel, and about 48 million pounds of food (around 195 million meals) simply to transport them to the nearest border.

There is no doubt that illegal immigration is a big problem in America. However, we have to be aware of the practical limitations the problem. With fully 5 percent of all the people in the country here illegally, perhaps it's time we considered an illegal immigration policy that takes into account the realities, and not just the anger.

So, what could we do?

Certainly we need better border security to stem the tide of the half million new illegals coming in each year. We also need better border security to prevent terrorism, so this is an investment that can help on multiple levels.

Racial profiling of the type just enacted in Arizona isn't the answer. That'll simply clog up the courts and law enforcement resources. It'll make the problem worse for everyone.

It's probably time to consider how to integrate this 13 million person population into mainstream America. Since we really can't gather them up and ship them out, perhaps it's time to turn them into real Americans.

One benefit of turning illegal immigrants into tax-paying Americans is how profitable it can be for America's bottom line. Thirteen million new taxpayers could net America more than $50 billion a year in annual tax revenues.

No matter what, this isn't a problem that's going to go away on its own. It's time we started thinking outside the box and implement policies that take into account the realities of the situation and provide long-term solutions.

Follow David on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz.

Editor’s note: David Gewirtz is Director of the U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute and Editor-in-Chief of the ZATZ magazines. He is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts and a top expert on saving and creating jobs. He is a member of FBI InfraGard, the Cyberterrorism Advisor for the International Association for Counterterrorism & Security Professionals, a columnist for The Journal of Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, and has been a guest commentator for the Nieman Watchdog of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. He is a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley extension, a recipient of the Sigma Xi Research Award in Engineering and was a candidate for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Letters.

soundoff (One Response)
  1. V.O

    I do not believe Arizona is doing the right thing, think about all the jobs the immigrants do that most Americans do not ever lift a finger for. Immigrants clean others houses, public places, rest rooms, landscape, and hard labor. instead of sending them back to there countries help them turn into "real" Americans and have them pay taxes and help this country get out of its recession

    April 28, 2010 at 11:47 am |