President Trump has said he wants to deport two to three million criminal undocumented immigrants. While it’s unclear where he got that figure from, achieving his goal won’t come cheap.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is one of two agencies within the Department of Homeland Security that’s already playing a pivotal role in enacting Trump’s mission. One of ICE’s main jobs is to apprehend undocumented immigrants who have received their final deportation orders or who have failed to report to the agency as instructed.
During fiscal 2016, ICE spent $3.2 billion to identify, arrest, detain and remove undocumented immigrants, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). ICE handled some 240,000 of the roughly 450,000 deportations that took place last year. Each deportation conducted by ICE cost taxpayers an average of $10,854 in fiscal 2016, an official from the agency told CNNMoney. This amount includes everything from housing and feeding a detainee to transporting him back to his home country.
Last year, the majority of ICE’s removals — 175,000 — happened at the border or a port of entry. The remaining deportations occurred either because ICE agents conducted their own investigation or they relied heavily on local police forces. In 2016, ICE spent $124.9 million to identify and apprehend what the agency refers to as immigration fugitives.
In 2014, the average cost to hold one deportee in a federal detention center was $5,633, according to the Center for American Progress, a left leaning think tank. The average stay: 31 days. And some costs have been on the rise. Last year, ICE spent an additional $345 million to accommodate “the surge in families with children crossing the U.S. southern border illegally,” according to the DHS. While some undocumented immigrants are detained for a matter of days, others can wait months — or even years — before they go before a judge or get sent back to their home country.