January 24, 2017
By Paul Bedard
Taxpayers have been charged over $838 million to fly illegal immigrants home, money that anti-immigration advocates hope will be diverted to increasing border security including “the wall” under President Trump.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency put the price at $838,507,614 since 2011 when illegal immigration began to spike, with most illegals allowed into the United States.
The costs, spelled out in documents provided under the Freedom of Information Act to Immigration Reform Law Institute, covered commercial and charter flights to mostly Central American nations.
“The American taxpayer would be hit with a fraction of these financial and environmental costs if we had a more complete border fence or if worker-protection programs, like mandatory e-Verify, were put in place like they should be. If we had the type of enforcement that other countries have, most of these thousand-plus flights per year would’ve been unnecessary,” said IRLI Executive Director and General Counsel Dale Wilcox.
In a statement to Secrets, he added, “These are the kinds of taxpayer expenses that have to be discussed when debating the costs of completing our border fence.” His group is a non-profit law firm that advocates for greater immigration control.
Trump has promised to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and lawmakers have indicated they plan to partially fund the project with taxes and fees on immigrants.
IRLI said that the ICE figures the cost of leasing and owning planes, using commercial airlines, and fuel, food and staffing costs. It said the agency averaged 1,000 flights a year.
Landing fees paid to airports and governments in the illegal alien source-countries were provided separately and amount up to around $5 million.
The group pointed to a recent Homeland Security Inspector General’s report on problems with the ICE flights, noting that too often the flights are sparsely populated.
The IG report said that over three years from 2010-2014, 930,435 illegals were returned. The cost per hour for the flights average $8,419.
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