Deporting All Of America’s Illegal Immigrants Would Cost A Whopping $285 Billion

illegal immigrants

With 19 debates and the State of the Union address behind us, we have heard a lot about immigration including President’s call for immigration reformGingrich’s immigration plan focusing on deporting criminal illegal immigrants, Romney’s newest plan of self deportation and a discussion about who wants to deport more grandmas. 

Yet the question that remains unanswered is, what would it cost to deport an undocumented grandma?  

A year ago, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deputy director Kumar Kibble told Congress it costs about $12,500 to deport an undocumented immigrant

However, a 2010 report by centre for American Progress and Rob Paral and Associates took a close look at all the budget appropriations for ICE and broke down the costs per person for each one of the four stages of deportation process: apprehension, detention, legal proceeding and transportation. The whopping cost of deportation per person that they came up with is $23,480

The report states that ICE and US Customs and Borders Protection budgets have increased by 80% since 2005, amounting to $17.1 billion in FY2010. If US were to undertake a mass deportation campaign its cost over five years would be $285 billion, which “would mean new taxes of $922 for every man, woman, and child in our country. $5,100 fewer dollars for the education of every public and private school student from prekindergarten to the 12th grade.”

Here is the breakdown of the $23,480 figure: 

1. Apprehension: $18,310

ICE 2008 budget for apprehensions was $1.24 billion and financed 67,728 apprehensions. That comes out to $18,310 per one apprehension. In some cases, cost per apprehension can be less: 

In one enforcement operation in May 2008, the federal government spent $5.2 million from preparation to follow-up costs on a raid at the Agriprocessors Inc. slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, which led to the detention of 389 mostly undocumented immigrant workers.

In that case, cost per apprehension was $13,368. 

bunk beds immigration detention centre

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2. Detention: $3,355

It costs $99 per bed and $12.82 per personnel (guards) a day to detain a deportee. According to the report, ICE has 32,000 beds in 350 facilities operated by governments or private contractors and 15,300 spaces in community-cased supervision program. These numbers exclude expenses associated with leasing state and local jail facilities. Deportees are on average detained for 30 days, bringing the detention cost to an average $3,355 per deportee.

3. Legal Proceedings: $817

The 2008 appropriations for processing of undocumented immigrants were $238.32 million, which was applied to 291,781 legal proceedings. The $817 per deportee is the most conservative estimate considering it is calculated using the number of cases initiated, rather than number of cases completed, and considering the fact that in 2008, it took on average two proceedings to achieve one deportation.

4. Transportation: $1,000

In 2007, ICE Assistant Secretary Julie Myers estimated $1,000 per person transportation cost for deportees.The report cited the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee that reported per person transportation cost for federal detainees, including deportees, to be $999 in 2008, and projected a $1,190 per person cost for 2011. Most undocumented immigrants from Mexico are transported back across the border by bus. Others are transported by plane by the ICE Detention and Removal Operations Flight Operations Unit in partnership with the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System, which transported almost 200,000 undocumented immigrants in 2008.