Costs For Mass Deportations By ICE Are Rising Sharply

Is this what the streets around Nassau University Medical Center will look like?

When Hurricane Florence threatened to devastate the coast of the Carolinas last month, many Americans learned for the first time that the Trump Administration took money that was supposed to go to FEMA and reprogrammed it to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

While the amount that had been moved out of FEMA was said to be a relatively small $10 million, research by National Public Radio shows that much larger amounts have been taken away from agencies within Homeland Security to bolster funding for ICE deportations.

Homeland Security recently informed Congress that it has moved $200 million out of the budgets of FEMA, the Coast Guard, and other agencies and has put the dollars into ICE. That shift is on top of an ICE budget of a record $3 billion, up dramatically from $1.77 billion in 2010.

One of the biggest expenses for Homeland Security is housing the children caught up in Trump’s “zero-tolerance” border enforcement offensive. Homeland Security is spending a quarter of billion dollars to keep children in substandard and dangerous facilities.

A recent report from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said that ICE is spending at an “unsustainable rate.” While Congress wants to rein in the costs of ICE and the Border Patrol, that is not likely to happen any time soon. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently proposed a change in restrictions on how long children can be detained. Currently, there is a 20-day limit. Sessions wants to allow for the indefinite jailing of the children, which would raise costs exponentially.

Detention is not the only cost that is rising. The price of flying deportees to their country of origin is also up. There has been a 30 percent increase in spending on deportation flights, mostly to Central American countries.

So, when your congressional representative tells you there is not enough money to fund education or medical research, ask how the dollars for deportation were found.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.