President Trump insists that, to make America great again, immigration enforcement spending must be increased. But, apparently, U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are already flush with resources. Just look:
On Tuesday, October 24, 2017, in the wee hours of the morning, border agents in Texas stopped an ambulance carrying a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy on its way to a hospital where the girl was to have emergency gall bladder surgery. As it happened, the 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy en route to emergency gall bladder surgery was undocumented. Presumably, a cost-benefit analysis was performed.
The agents decided to ‘allow’ the girl to continue to the hospital. Once the ambulance was through the checkpoint—the original purpose of which, presumably, was to catch gang members and drug dealers—the agents decided to up and leave and follow the ambulance all the way to the hospital. Then, as if the border agents were part of a Law and Order episode or there was any possibility that the 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy would magically escape their clutches, the agents waited outside her hospital room until she was released. They, then, took her into custody and put her in detention.
Even assuming that it costs no more to detain a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy recovering from emergency surgery than the $150 per person, per day, that it costs to detain an adult, seven days later, that’s still another grand to add to the tab. In reality, the cost of detaining children is much, much higher. And when you consider that the 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who just had emergency is not going anywhere any time soon (i.e., it is not as if she is not going to be immediately deported), the cost of keeping her in detention is only going to skyrocket.
Moreover, the ACLU has threatened to file a lawsuit in federal court on the girl’s behalf should the government continue to detain her. If that happens, the government will need to expend additional resources on lawyers to defend its actions. And, once the ACLU wins its case, the government will pay for all of its fees, too.
All in all, the government’s decision to detain this 10-year-old girl has the potential to cost tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars. We needn’t speculate about the costs of detaining children. Just a few months ago, the Government was finally made to release four families that it had detained in Berks County, PA, for nearly two years. The cost: approximately $450,000 per family, not including medical, education, or legal expenses. And, don’t be fooled, these children, some of whom were as young as three-years old and learned to walk in talk in detention, were not gang-members or drug dealers that you hear the administration talk about ad nauseam. No, they were children that the government had already determined were eligible to receive green cards. Their applications had been submitted and were pending. And in all likelihood, they, like 10-year-old Rosa, will remain in the United States for as long as they wish.
The detention of vulnerable children is not only morally egregious, it is also just plain dumb. It has no place in the United States. And, if U.S Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement can afford to continue the practice, neither agency needs a dollar more in funding.