U.S. agency says average cost of immigrant detention $119 per day

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano speaks about the effects of the sequester from the White House in Washington February 25, 2013.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano speaks about the effects of the sequester from the White House in Washington February 25, 2013.

WASHINGTON — A government agency caught in a political firestorm for releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants from detention because of budget concerns said on Thursday the cost of holding someone was more than six times that of alternative supervision methods.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, has been sharply criticized by some Republicans in Congress for releasing "several hundred" illegal immigrants ahead of mandatory "sequestration" cuts across the government that become effective on Friday.

Some Republican critics see the move as a political ploy by President Barack Obama's administration to try to increase public anxiety over the coming budget cuts.

ICE said it reviewed its detained population to ensure detention levels stayed within its current budget, and over the past week placed several hundred illegal immigrants under methods of supervision less costly than detention.

The current average daily cost of detention per person per day is $119, compared with 17 cents to $17.78 per person per day for alternate methods such as requiring scheduled visits with a caseworker or electronic monitoring, an ICE official told Reuters.

"Priority for detention remains on serious criminal offenders and other individuals who pose a significant threat to public safety," the official said on condition of anonymity.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she wished the decision by ICE officials to release low-risk illegal immigrants from detention had not been done so suddenly.

"Do I wish that this all hadn't been done all of a sudden and so that people weren't surprised by it? Of course," Napolitano said in an interview with "ABC World News." ICE is under the Department of Homeland Security.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas, sent a letter this week demanding details about the release from ICE Director John Morton.

McCaul spoke with Morton on Thursday and received assurances the director would respond to his letter, and they plan to discuss the agency's answers in person, a committee aide said.

ICE has not publicly given the total number of immigrants released from detention in the past week because of budget concerns. But after a law enforcement official in Arizona said more than 500 were released there, ICE said the actual number of immigrants released was 303 since February 21 from four Arizona facilities and that 2,280 remained in custody in that state.


VSU 2 years, 2 months ago

Deport them back to their country, problem solved.


jglass 2 years, 2 months ago

Barack Obama DRAMA...................he is slick and he knows it. Ship them back to their country and do not allow them back here. We cannot afford the up keep of all of these illegals.......(extra food stamps, housing, medical). The working people cannot afford to contiinue to take care of all of the illegals and all of the slackers that are citizens. Cuts should start at the top.....................President's salary slice it, we pay for all of his expenses anyway. Congress and Senate slice their pay, limit their terms, no retirement and let them get their own health insurance, we should not be paying for that. They are cutting the working people not the slackers and their entitlements!!!!!


chinaberry25 2 years, 2 months ago

If you let them walk the streets it most likely costs more in babies bread, medical and crimes. Keep them there or deport them. At least they cannot vote illegally.


bigbob 2 years, 2 months ago

Cost alot more than that for criminals, wonder if the libtards will let all them go to.


Trustbuster 2 years, 2 months ago

Think about the long term costs by allowing them to leave without a judge's consent. Transfer payments, benefits and taxes.


RedEric 2 years, 2 months ago

40 some percent of all illegals are on welfare, SNAP etc. Also all of the schooling cost of illegal children. If this administration reduces money to any tax payer while giving billions to illegals it is no longer my government. It is not draconian to treat illegals the way their country treats us. This whole thing is a sham anyway. There is no actual reduction. We will still spend more than last year. It is a reduction in increased spending. If we had enough to keep them before sequestration then we have enough now. These people are despicable.


waltspecht 2 years, 2 months ago

The studies I have seen claim the $120.00 / Day just for the detention. That doesn't account for all the additional costs. Such as food, medical, recreation etc. Wonder what it all adds up to?


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