President Donald Trump on Sunday tweeted several illegal immigration-related facts and figures that are staggering in scope and far greater than publicly acknowledged in the past.

The most common figure used by the media and political leaders of both parties in Congress is that there are some 11 million undocumented migrants currently residing in the United States.

But if the president’s figures are accurate, the real number is far greater — more than two times greater, in fact.

What’s more, the cost to taxpayers is breathtaking: More than $18 billion spent on illegal immigration thus far this year.

“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” POTUS tweeted, apparently citing statistics provided to him by the Department of Homeland Security.

That said, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was asked about the number during an appearance on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

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“I’m not exactly sure where the president got that number this morning,” Mulvaney said.

Still, immigration reform activists and groups have long thought that the actual number of people living illegally inside the U.S. was substantially higher than the universally accepted figure of 11-12 million.

A December 2018 report from DHS estimated that as of January 2015, there 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. But Mulvaney said the real figure has to be higher given the number of people who continue crossing illegally into 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, adding that due to the porous nature of the southwestern border, the real figure could be as high as “30 or 40 million.”

A Yale/MIT study published last fall put the estimate at 22 million. The study also noted that the actual number could be as high as 29.1 million. The authors note that their figure does not reflect a dramatic uptick in illegal immigration but a historic undercounting of those in the country illegally.

Either way, Mulvaney said the point of the tweet was what should be discussed.

“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.”

He added that one of the purposes behind the president’s tweet was to put the costs of illegal immigration before American taxpayers.

“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. “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.”

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