How Much It Costs to Deport an Undocumented Immigrant

By Jamie Gorton

CNN Money published an article a few weeks ago outlining the costs of deportation in the United States—specifically the Immigration and Customs Enforcement process, which handles a little over half of the deportations that occur every year. Most of these spending figures were provided by the Department of Homeland Security, with supplementary figures provided by think tanks like the Center for American Progress.

The report was published to reflect on President Trump’s plans to deport between 2 and 3 million undocumented immigrants—a figure that is even more staggering when the costs of a single deportation is considered.

Here are some of the 2016 spending highlights from the article:

  • Of the 450,000 deportations in the U.S., ICE handled 240,000
  • ICE spent roughly $3.2 billion overall on immigrant removal
  • Each deportation costs on average $10,384 (and rising)
  • ICE spent $129.4 million investigating and catching “immigration fugitives”
  • Of 240,000 deportations, only 15,000 were caught during ICE investigations

Here’s ultimately what costs taxpayers the most amount of money:


For a 31-day stay in a detention center, it costs U.S. taxpayers around $5,633 for housing, feeding, medical care, staffing, etc. And a 31-day stay is becoming less and less common. Some detention periods are months long, even years long, because the courts are overloaded with cases.

Our Malden immigration attorney, Jamie Gorton, weighs in on deportation costs:

the American”The costs of housing ICE detainees is going to skyrocket as ICE arrests more and more people,” Attorney Jamie Gorton said. “It is much, much harder now to get ICE officers or lawyers to agree to a bond compared to before the inauguration. Instead of being allowed to work to support themselves, it’s ultimately the American taxpayers who are going to take the financial hit.”

The problem is going to worsen as ICE arrests more and more people, Attorney Gorton said. “The more people who go into detention, the slower the Immigration Court becomes, which means that detainees are going to spend more time in jail overall. That really adds to the bill.”

Finally, Attorney Gorton noted that many immigration lawyers in Boston were seeing a new trend: detention centers that are filled to capacity. “I represented two men who were passengers in a car that was stopped by State Police. ICE arrested the passengers, but there was no room in the immigration wing so they were kept in the general prison population. To put people who were just driving home from work and force them into the same prison population as convicts is dangerous, unfair, and a bad sign of what’s to come.”

To read the full article from CNN, click here.

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