Serving The Immigration Needs Of The San Diego Area Since 1984

The cost of deportation in dollars and cents

On Behalf of | May 2, 2017 | Immigration Detention

Deportations of undocumented immigrants continue their frenetic pace in the 100+ days following President Donald Trump’s inauguration. A campaign promise to remove all 11 million has narrowed to a focus on the approximately two million with criminal histories.

To bolster those targeted efforts, the president has asked Congress for another $1.15 billion for immigrantion and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain, transport or remove unauthorized immigrants with criminal histories from the United States. He also requested another $76 million to recruit and hire an additional 10,000 ICE agents.

Yet, those appropriations do not come close to covering deportation of two million undocumented criminal immigrants. In fact, it only covers five percent of the overall costs based on current estimates. The budget request would pay for 106,000 more immigrants while supplemental funds would finance another 138,000.

During the fiscal year that ended in September, ICE spent an average of $10,854 per deportee to identify, apprehend, detain, process and remove, according to spokesperson Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe.

To apprehend an individual, the federal government spends an average of $4,800. However, those costs do not take into account the cooperation and the expenses of local and state agencies. Without help, federal apprehension costs can go up to $27,000 per person.

Detention represents the largest expense as money goes towards monitoring, feeding, healthcare and other needs. With a cost of $180 per day and an average detention lasting approximately 30 days, the price tag per detainee is $5,400.

Court proceedings necessary to legally process immigrants costs $1,495 per person, according to the American Action Fund. The 47,500 deportation proceedings since October only scratches the surface of the massive backlog of 542,000 pending cases with an average wait time of 677 days.

Finally, travel costs averaged $1,978 in fiscal 2016, according to ICE. While 200,000 people take buses back to one of 11 cities on the Mexican side of the border, ICE Air Operations transports other detainees. Half of them fly to detention centers prior to deportation. Twenty-five percent go to Central America’s Northern Triangle of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The rest end up in locations across South America, the Caribbean and other points worldwide.