Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is one of two agencies under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that is doing their part of fulfilling President Donald Trump's goal of deporting two to three million criminal, undocumented immigrants. One of ICE’s main duties is to seize undocumented immigrants who have received their final deportation notices or who have failed to report to the agency per instructions.
However, achieving the Trump Administration’s goal will come at a huge cost. According to the DHS, ICE spent $3.2 billion to identify, apprehend, detain, and remove undocumented immigrations during fiscal 2016. Last year, ICE conducted 240,000 of the roughly 450,000 total deportations, each costing costs American taxpayers an average of $10,854.
The following is a breakdown of the costs:
- Arrests – Last year, ICE spent $129.4 million to identify and apprehend “immigration fugitives.” Most of ICE’s removals – approximately 175,000 – occurred at the border or port of entry, while the others happened either due to isolated ICE investigations or with the help of local law enforcement.
- Detention – Since detention includes providing shelter, food, medical treatment, and other necessities to undocumented immigrants, it is considered the most expensive part of the deportation process. According to DHS, ICE runs 112 of its own detention centers throughout the country. Furthermore, it works with around 500 other state and local jails, as well as private prisons to detain undocumented immigrants. In 2014, the average cost to hold one deportee in a federal detention facility was $5,633 – with an average stay of 31 days. Last year, however, CIE spent an extra $345 million due to an increase in undocumented families with children, who required specialized services.
- Processing – Between ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), roughly 450,000 undocumented immigrants were returned to their home countries last year. However, only 15% of them ever stepped foot in a courtroom before a judge, since most undocumented immigrants with prior removal orders or who have overstayed their visa can be deported without going to court. The estimated costs for legal proceedings range from around $1,200 to $1,500 per case.
- Transportation – While Mexicans who are caught crossing the border illegally are returned almost immediately due to their close proximity, those from other places must wait in detention until transportation to take them back to their home country is arranged. It costs an average of $1,978 in fiscal 2016 to transport each deportee to their home country.