President Donald Trump on Sunday got dragged for tweeting out questionable statistics regarding illegal immigration and its impact on the economy.
"We are not even into February and the cost of illegal immigration so far this year is $18,959,495,168," Trump wrote. "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"
The House Homeland Security Committee, chaired by Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS), quickly called out Trump for using "completely fabricated" figures that "should not be taken as true in any way."
Please note: the numbers @realDonaldTrump provides below are completely fabricated and should not be taken as true… https://t.co/3NW6xcCUoZ— House Homeland Security Committee (@House Homeland Security Committee)1548626139.0
Indeed, Trump's Department of Homeland Security estimated in 2015 that there are approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
But an MIT-Yale study in 2018 may hint at where Trump's number originated. Using data from border apprehensions and visa overstays, the paper suggested a higher population of undocumented immigrants than previously thought.
“Our results lead us to the conclusion that the widely accepted estimate of 11.3 million undocumented immigrants in the United States is too small,” the authors, MIT’s Mohammad Fazel-Zarandi and Jonathan Feinstein and Yale's Edward Kaplan, wrote. “Our model estimates indicate that the true number is likely to be larger, with an estimated 95 percent probability interval ranging from 16.2 to 29.5 million undocumented immigrants.”
Even so, the study's range is huge, and Trump's 25,772,342 figure is weirdly specific.
People want the president to cite his sources because this number is certainly not from "DHS" as mentioned in Trump's tweet.
@realDonaldTrump At least 25,772,342???? Very specific for an "at least"!— Giles Jefferson (@Giles Jefferson)1548681975.0
@realDonaldTrump I dare you to prove these numbers are true and accurate and cite a source. Go ahead! I dare you! Y… https://t.co/c4NKggVkal— Stephen Matteo (@Stephen Matteo)1548694606.0
@realDonaldTrump Did Sean hannity Limbaugh supply these figures for the emperor?— William Ingram (@William Ingram)1548686847.0
@HomelandDems @1stgrace108 @realDonaldTrump https://t.co/NRoRfjkjR9— Don Flanagan (@Don Flanagan)1548683448.0
@HomelandDems @ManMadeMoon @realDonaldTrump The question is, who is feeding him these crazy numbers? Is he just mak… https://t.co/nWpBVoChSB— Kristen Miller (@Kristen Miller)1548690831.0
Further, the costs Trump mentioned are also totally made-up and certainly did not come from DHS.
Trump has previously pegged the cost of illegal immigration anywhere from $200 to $275 billion per year.
In December, Trump threw these numbers around on Twitter.
Could somebody please explain to the Democrats (we need their votes) that our Country losses 250 Billion Dollars a… https://t.co/Z8nKReskdg— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1543940544.0
Illegal immigration costs the United States more than 200 Billion Dollars a year. How was this allowed to happen?— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1545137748.0
He also repeated them at a Cabinet meeting on December 19...
"It's so insignificant compared to what we're talking about. You know, I've heard numbers as high as $275 billion we lose on illegal immigration."
...and at his Farm Bill signing on December 20.
"Illegal immigration costs our nation $275 billion a year. You hear many different numbers. You can say, 'billions and billions,' but the number that I hear most accurate is $275 billion a year — at least."
Trump has provided no evidence to support these claims. In fact, in 2017, the CATO Institute estimated the cost to be between $3.3 and $15.6 billion per year. That same year, the Heritage Foundation said $54.5 billion. Even the ultra-conservative Federation for American Immigration Reform's (FAIR) guess was $135 billion, though their report was widely criticized by groups like CATO.
Where is Trump getting all this? Twitter had some ideas.
@realDonaldTrump Were r u getting your numbers from. I think you just typed all the number on your phone.— Amanda Lopez (@Amanda Lopez)1548685947.0
@realDonaldTrump Is there anyone in this thread who is not a Russian sock puppet who actually believes this? If so… https://t.co/LMLmvIurgA— David (@David)1548689905.0
@realDonaldTrump Trump—“cost of illegal immigration so far this year is $18,959,495,168. Cost Friday was $603,331,3… https://t.co/agUCBnwQ6A— Ahmed Baba (@Ahmed Baba)1548616660.0
@realDonaldTrump Oh, you just took your (completely fact-free) claim that illegal immigrants cost the country $200-… https://t.co/HXFsOwhm09— Pé Resists (@Pé Resists)1548607513.0
@HomelandDems @realDonaldTrump Pretty much true for all of his tweets.— Some Dude (@Some Dude)1548683328.0
Trump's tweet is literal fake news.