by JULIA HAHN
20 Aug 2015Washington D.C.
Illegal aliens who show up at the border have been resettled all across United States of America instead of being detained and deported, as Donald Trump recently called for in his new immigration plan.
According to data from the Justice Department obtained by Breitbart News, 96 percent of Central Americans caught illegally crossing into the country last summer are still in the United States. Now Breitbart News has learned exclusively that a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from a pro-security group about the cost of this operation is being stonewalled.
In January of 2015, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, on behalf of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), filed a FOIA request to discover the cost of accommodating the tens of thousands of illegal unaccompanied minors who came across the border encouraged by President Obama’s 2012 executive amnesty for illegal youths.
The FOIA letter made five requests of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency: that the federal agency detail (1) the costs of building of family detention centers; (2) the costs of apprehending, processing and detaining unaccompanied minors; (3) the costs transporting, transferring, removing and repatriating unaccompanied minors; (4) the costs related to ICE’s representation of government in removal procedures involving unaccompanied minors; and (5) the number of instances where objections to the return of unaccompanied minors were raised by the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
The federal agency, however, refused to answer many of these questions– instead only partially answering two of the five requests. The agency provided only the costs of transporting, transferring and removing illegal minors, as well as the costs of the man-hours such tasks required. Those costs totaled $58.2 million—quadrupling ICE’s costs of $15.6 million in the year previous.
FAIR told Breitbart News that the agency did not provide clear documentation nor explanation as to how it arrived at this estimation.
FAIR asserts that, “The failure to provide most of the cost information related to the surge of [unaccompanied minors] indicates that the government has either failed to properly document those costs, or is refusing to reveal them.”
Because this FOIA request only inquired into the fiscal impact on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency– it does not at all take into account the cost incurred by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) nor the public education system. Because most of the unaccompanied minors were turned over to HHS following their apprehension, FAIR notes that HHS’ costs “for providing shelter, food, education, health care and other services, likely vastly exceed additional costs incurred by ICE.”
The flood of minors has also placed fiscal strains on our public education system. FAIR notes that, “68,541 [unaccompanied minors] were apprehended entering the U.S. Virtually all of them have been allowed to remain in the U.S., at least temporarily.”
Because federal law dictates that all children are entitled to an education regardless of their immigration status, the fiscal burden of educating these students has fallen onto our public education system.
As FAIR notes, educating 68,541 illegal immigrant children at “an average annual cost of $12,401 per child enrolled in K-12 education, the annual cost to local schools is at least $850 million. However, since virtually all of the [unaccompanied minors] are non-English proficient, the actual costs are likely substantially greater.”
The increased costs and difficulties associated with educating illegal minors from poor and developing countries has been well-documented. As Fox News Latino reported in June of this year, the border surge has left many “schools struggling with influx of unaccompanied minors.” While the federal government’s policy of releasing illegal minors into American communities imposes burdens all across our nation’s education system, it will perhaps hurt minority American students most profoundly, by straining the educational resources needed in their communities.
For instance, New York’s Hempstead School District, which is a 96 percent black and Hispanic district, had about 6,700 students dispersed amongst its 10 schools and usually receives an average of a couple hundred new students every year. “However, last summer’s enrollment skyrocketed to about 1,500 new kids – most of them undocumented immigrants.” Fox News Latino writes, “The crush of new enrollees left the district scrambling, forcing it to dip into its emergency reserves to shell out more than $6 million to hire more English as a Second Language teachers and additional staff to alleviate overcrowded classrooms. Still, it has not been enough. The average classroom in the district now has about 40 to 50 children and [as one teacher explained is] posing a safety issue… ‘You have to understand,’ [one teacher said], ‘many of the children are not even proficient in their native language, Spanish, and now we have to teach them how to speak English. That can be very difficult.’”
Deporting instead of resettling illegal immigrants would save taxpayer dollars in two ways.
First, by deterring future border crossings, it would reduce the amount of illegal immigration in the future. As FAIR explains, refusing to implement immigration law has only encouraged more illegal immigrants to unlawfully enter the United States: “In July 2015, the Government Accountability Office confirmed that President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA] program played a substantial role in triggering the surge of [unaccompanied minors] in 2014.”
Second, deporting rather than resettling illegal immigrants would save the costs of feeding, clothing, housing, educating, hospitalizing, and caring for illegal immigrants and their relatives. A previous study conducted by FAIR documented that illegal immigrants cost U.S. taxpayers about $113 billion every year. After FAIR explains that by comparison, “The estimated cost of deporting an illegal alien is $8,318. Using just the partial enumerated $58.2 million costs to ICE and the conservative $850 million estimate for education of [unaccompanied minors] resettled in the U.S., the amount of taxpayer money spent on dealing with unaccompanied minors would have paid for the removal of an additional 109,000 illegal aliens.”