Instead of immediately deporting illegal minors caught at the border, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has spent more than $100 million shuttling them around the country, giving them more than enough opportunity to disappear without facing any repercussions:
Government figures obtained by the Immigration Reform Law Institute through an open records request show Immigration and Customs Enforcement spent an average of $665 per juvenile in 2014, with most of that going to the cost of airplane flights to shuttle the children among government agencies, to relatives here in the U.S. or back to their home countries — if they’re deported.
At that rate, ICE will spend about $4.5 million flying just the children nabbed at the border in October, and somewhere north of $100 million since the surge began in earnest in 2014.
According to statistics from the Senate Homeland Security Committee, only 3 percent of the more than 120,000 illegal minors caught over the last few years have been sent home.
If that’s not bad enough, even the ones who are deported cost taxpayers a pretty penny:
ICE officials couldn’t provide updated cost data for ferrying children inside the U.S., but said the overall cost to deport any illegal immigrant in 2015 averaged $12,213. That includes identifying, catching, holding, processing through the courts and then shipping the person back home.
Just the removal part alone averaged $1,962, ICE said.
October 2016 was one of the worst months on record, with 6,754 unaccompanied minors and 13,123 families caught at the border. Unaccompanied minors are put up in hotels, which accounts for more than 25 percent of ICE’s costs. Another 58 percent goes to airplane costs.
But the costs don’t stop with ICE. After being processed and shuttled to wherever, minors are transferred the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); and according to Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, HHS is cutting money from cancer research and contagious disease prevention in order to care for the massive influx:
She said the cuts were all the more striking because the role of [the Office of Refugee Resettlement] is to eventually deliver the children to families already here in the U.S. — families that oftentimes are here illegally themselves. Ms. Vaughan said that means the government ends up doing “the job of the human smugglers” by delivering the children the final leg of the journey.
And all on the taxpayer’s dime.