Donald Trump spent about two weeks waffling on his plans for illegal immigration, appearing to lean toward moderation on his "mass deportation" proposal.
Then he spoke Wednesday night. The speech was a stemwinder, promising a complete crackdown, ramped up enforcement across the board and assurance that any illegal immigrant in the United States will be subject to deportation.
All of that comes, of course, with a price tag. A big one.
Trump laid out policy proposals Wednesday night, and for many of them, we can provide at least a rough estimate of the cost using a variety of sources. There are some programs, though, for which we don't have solid details or estimates.
According to the numbers we do have, Trump's plan would add $51.2 billion and $66.9 billion in immigration enforcement costs over the next five years.
To put that in perspective, a 2014 estimate from PolitiFact calculated the United States was spending $16.2 billion on immigration enforcement per year. According to these estimates, Trump's plan would increase that annual cost by between 63 percent and 83 percent, and potentially more when you account for programs for which we don't have numbers.
Below, we break it down, proposal by proposal.
1. Southern border wall — $12.6 billion to $25 billion over five years
Trump has put the cost at $8 billion, but our own Glenn Kessler did some digging and found estimates ranging from as low as $15 billion — from Bernstein Research — to more than $25 billion, all told. The National Taxpayers Union, meanwhile, looked at the cost of current border fencing -- which is less expensive than building a wall -- and estimated the cost at $12.6 billion over five years. It's not clear five years would be long enough to finish the wall, but given Trump himself has said building the wall would be done quickly and easily, we'll say the range goes as high as $25 billion over five years.
(Of course, Trump repeated Wednesday night that the wall would be paid for by Mexico — something Mexico's president, whom Trump met with earlier Wednesday, said wasn't going to happen. But then Trump later in his speech assured it would be done "at a reasonable cost.")
2. End "catch-and-release" — $14.4 billion over five years
Trump reiterated that "anybody who illegally crosses our border will be detained" and deported — not released inside the United States. The National Taxpayers Union points to a Congressional Budget Office review of an immigration bill in the 113th Congress, which estimated that it would cost $14.4 billion over five years to provide state and local governments with grants to incarcerate illegal immigrants.
3. Triple the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation officers — $10.8 billion over five years
The same bill reviewed by the CBO in No. 2 would have added 5,000 deportation officers, 700 support staff, and 60 trial lawyers. It projected this would cost $5.4 billion over five years.
Given the Trump campaign has pointed to estimates that there are about 5,000 ICE officers focused on deportation, you can double the CBO estimate to get a rough estimate of what it would mean to triple the number of deportation officers to about 15,000. The total cost would be about $10.8 billion over five years, according to this estimate.
4. Complete the biometric entry-exit visa tracking system — $6.1 billion to $9.4 billion
This is a program aimed at preventing illegal immigration through people overstaying their visas by matching their arrival records to their departure records. The Department of Homeland Security estimated in 2008 that it would cost between $3.1 billion and $6.4 billion to implement the system just at land and sea ports. In 2003, it estimated that implementing the program on land would cost $3 billion. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) has put the estimate much higher, at $25 billion.
We've combined the more-official DHS estimates to say the full program — land, air and sea — would be between $6.1 billion and $9.4 billion, assuming Trump wants it at all points of entry. (This could be a low estimate because of old estimates and inflation.)
5. Hire 5,000 more Border Patrol agents and expand the number of Border Patrol stations "significantly" — $4.3 billion over five years
The CBO calculated in 2013 that adding 3,500 Border Patrol agents would cost $600 million annually, or about $170,000 per agent. Extrapolating from there, we can estimate it would cost about $850 million per year for 5,000 more Border Patrol agents — or $4.3 billion over five years.
Trump didn't put a number on expanding the number of Border Patrol stations, but the CBO estimate included new facilities and other things these agents would need to do their jobs.
6. Restore the Secure Communities program — $1 billion over five years
The Obama administration halted this program, which used data from the Justice Department and DHS to identify foreign-born people arrested by local law enforcement. It led to the removal of an estimated 375,000 people between 2008 and 2014, but was discontinued because of reservations about deportation of non-criminals and how it affected relationships between local law enforcement and foreign-born residents, according to the CBO.
The administration and Congress requested as much as $184 million to fund the program annually, and you have to figure Trump would ramp up his program at a similarly high level — if not higher. So over five years, a conservative estimate would be $1 billion.
7. Have Congress pass Kate's Law — $996 million over five years
This law is named after Kate Steinle, who was killed by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco who had previously been deported multiple times. It would require mandatory minimum sentences of five years for any illegal immigrant who returns to the United States after being convicted of an aggravated felony or has at least two convictions for illegal reentry, and a minimum sentence of 10 years for anyone who has been deported three times and reenters.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission says this would expand the prison population by 57,000 over five years. The American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes the law, has used that estimate to calculate that it would cost between $3.1 billion and $3.7 billion over the next decade — but with most of that coming in the second half of the decade. The latter estimate pegs it at $996 million over five years. Another group that opposes the law — Families Against Mandatory Minimums — has pegged the cost much higher, at $2 billion annually. Because these are interest groups, and we only have estimates from interest groups on this law, we'll go with the more conservative estimate.
8. Create a nationwide E-Verify system — $635 million over five years
This is an Internet-based program that cross-references information on an employment eligibility form with data from DHS and the Social Security Administration to make sure a potential employee is eligible. A 2013 CBO report stated that this would cost about $635 million over five years.
9. Restore the 287(g) partnerships — $340 million over five years
Similar to the Secure Communities program, ICE says this program "allows a state and local law enforcement entity to enter into a partnership with ICE, under a joint Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). The state or local entity receives delegated authority for immigration enforcement within their jurisdictions." It was halted in 2012.
The program cost $68 million in fiscal 2011, according to the National Immigration Forum and a DHS report, so we can project it would cost at least about $340 million over five years under Trump, even if he doesn't ramp it up.
10. Have Congress pass the Davis-Oliver Act — to be determined
This bill is named after two California police officers who were killed by illegal immigrants. It would authorize state and local governments to enforce federal immigration law and direct money to help in that effort. It would also punish localities that have created "sanctuary cities," where illegal immigrants need not fear being arrested for their immigration status. There don't appear to be any full cost estimates.
11. New screening tests for all refugees and immigrants — to be determined
It's not clear exactly what Trump's "extreme vetting" process would entail, so we can't put a number on it here. But currently the vetting process for refugees is $1.1 billion, so ramping that up significantly would clearly add plenty to the bottom line.