President Donald Trump on Sunday said the number of illegal immigrants in America dwarfs any previously published official estimates.
“We are not even into February and the cost of illegal immigration so far this year is $18,959,495,168. Cost Friday was $603,331,392. There are at least 25,772,342 illegal aliens, not the 11,000,000 that have been reported for years, in our Country. So ridiculous! DHS,” Trump tweeted.
Chief of Staff Mark Mulvaney was asked about the number during an appearance on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”
We are not even into February and the cost of illegal immigration so far this year is $18,959,495,168. Cost Friday was $603,331,392. There are at least 25,772,342 illegal aliens, not the 11,000,000 that have been reported for years, in our Country. So ridiculous! DHS
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 27, 2019
“I’m not exactly sure where the president got that number this morning,” Mulvaney said.
A December 2018 report from the Department of Homeland Security estimated that as of January 2015, there 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States.
A November 2018 report from the Pew Research Center claimed that the number as of 2016 was 10.7 million and that the number had been declining.
Mulvaney suggested, though that the total “has to be larger than 11 million” because of the numbers of illegal immigrants who continue to enter the U.S.
“I think that number was accurate a couple of years ago. We know that it’s going up because we know, for example, that 60,000 new illegals are coming across each month for the last three months,” Mulvaney said.
He noted that given the porous nature of the border and the fact that illegal immigrants shy away from being counted, the number could be as high as “30 or 40 million.”
Mulvaney said the issue is not the math, but the moral of the tweet.
“I think what you see him trying to do is point out how silly this debate is,” Mulvaney said. “This is not that much money in the greater scheme of things.”
Mulvaney said that Trump’s figures put the cost of illegal immigration before the American public.
“I think he was trying to draw attention to the fact that while the Democrats are sitting here dug in … that we’re spending so much money on other things,” he added. “It’s really quite absurd,” he said.
Mulvaney said that before of the continued flow of illegal immigrants, Trump will build his Border Wall “one way or another.”
Mulvaney did not rule out another federal shutdown if it helps make the wall a reality.
“He is willing to do whatever it takes to secure the border. He does take this very seriously. This is a serious humanitarian and security crisis,” he said.
Mulvaney said that as America’s commander in chief, Trump must defend the border.
“Is it worth it for the president to secure the nation? Keep in mind, he’s not making this up. There really is a humanitarian crisis on the border. There really is a security crisis on the border.”
“I know that some people want to stick their head in the sand and say that’s not the case but we have data that there are actually hundreds of known criminals in the next caravan that is coming up through Mexico today. These are not made up numbers.”
“So if you’re the president of the United States and you know that you have to defend the nation, do you want to shut the government down? No. Do you want to declare a national emergency? No. But you do need and want to defend the nation and he’s going to do that,” Mulvaney said.
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