White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said he is “not exactly sure” where President Trump got the statistic claiming that “illegal immigration” has cost U.S. taxpayers nearly $19 billion this year, which he tweeted Sunday morning without citing evidence.
“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,” Trump claimed in a tweet, without providing a source for his statistic.
“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,” he added, casting doubt on the more commonly cited figure of undocumented immigrants of 11 million. He also typed “DHS” in his tweet, but did not provide a source for the figures he shared.
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
Asked about the tweet on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said he wasn’t “exactly sure” where the statistic came from, but did defend the president’s broader point about the need for increased border security.
“I’m not exactly sure where the president got that number this morning, but 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.
“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.”
The Washington Post recently noted that Trump has steadily increased the purported annual cost, stating on the campaign trail in 2015 that it was $130 billion, tweeting in December 2018 that it was more than $200 billion, and claimed last month that the total was $275 billion per year.
The Associated Press reported last month that while Trump claimed there were as many as 30 million in the country illegally, the most recent data available from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center put the figure at 11.3 million as of 2016.
Mulvaney on Sunday argued that the 11 million figure was accurate “a couple years ago,” but that the number of people coming across the border on a monthly basis means the figure could be as high as “30 or 40 million.”