$46,654: Annual Cost of Detaining Illegal Alien Exceeds Average American Income

By Terence P. Jeffrey | April 25, 2018 | 12:31pm EDT
(Photo/Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

(CNSNews.com) - The federal government paid a “bed rate” of $127.82 per day to house each illegal alien detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in fiscal 2016, according to ICE data published in a new report by the Government Accountability Office.

Even if you do not count the extra day in that leap year, that works out to $46,654.30 for each detention bed occupied by an illegal alien for 365 days.

The approximately $46,654 it cost to house a detained illegal alien for 365 days in fiscal 2016 was approximately $104 more than the average income for Americans 15 and older that year—which, according to Census Bureau Table PINC-01, was $46,550.

The GAO report—“Immigration Detention: Opportunities Exist to Improve Cost Estimates”—examined how ICE calculates its anticipated budgetary needs for detaining illegal aliens. It discovered, for example, that ICE had made some basic mathematical errors in preparing its budget justifications for Congress, including a $34.7 million multiplication error in its fiscal 2014 request and a $129 million multiplication error in its fiscal 2015 request.

ICE also made a $4,000 multiplication error in calculating its fiscal 2018 budget justification, the report said.

“To determine its immigration detention costs, ICE primarily relies on two variables—the average dollar amount required to house one adult detainee for one day (bed rate) and the average daily population (ADP) of detainees,” said the GAO report.

“In order to determine the amount necessary to operate the detention system for adult detainees, ICE multiplies the projected ADP by the projected bed rate by the number of days in the year,” said GAO.

However, GAO discovered, ICE had difficulty successfully executing this multiplication problem in fiscal 2014, 2015 and 2018.

“During our review of ICE’s fiscal year 2014 and fiscal year 2015 budget requests, we calculated the total amounts requested for ICE’s immigration detention costs using its formula (see fig. 3) and the ADP and bed rate figures provided in the budget request and compared it with ICE’s requested amount,” said he report. “Based on our calculations, the amounts ICE requested are not consistent (by a difference of $34.7 million for fiscal year 2014 and $129 million for fiscal year 2015) with the figures used to develop their estimate.18 ICE officials acknowledged the error.”

“The fiscal year 2018 request also contains a multiplication error that resulted in ICE requesting less funds—$4,000—than using the correct calculation,” said the report.

In Table 4, the report shows what ICE calculated the “bed rate” to be $127.82 for fiscal 2016 (based on the actual data for the first three quarters of that year). That made the cost for detaining an illegal alien for 365 days in that year $46,654.30.

According to Table 4, ICE also estimated that the “bed rate” would be $132.59 for fiscal 2017 and $133.99 for fiscal 2018.

Assuming that the $133.99 “bed rate” for fiscal 2018 is accurate, that means it will cost the federal government $48,906.35 to detain an illegal alien for 365 days this year.


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