Today’s question comes from Tom - I called both of Congresswoman Donna Shalala's offices this morning at 9:30 am. The Miami office rang several times then disconnected. I called her Washington office twice, and got "this mailbox is full".
Checking Shalala's website, she has a short rundown on her visit to the Homestead Detention Center. The story is totally one-sided since it says zero about what it costs US taxpayers to fund detention centers, zero about when these children will be sent back to their home country, zero about reimbursement from the country these children came from, i.e. deducting the cost of their care from that country's foreign aid.
Bottom Line:The on again, off again, on again debate about the Homestead Detention Center for minors has been on for two reasons. First, you have freshman South Florida representatives like Donna Shalala attempt to play political football with the facility, despite it not being in her district, because of the recent abhorrent revelations of alleged sexual abuse at the facility. To your point, what’s often under-disgusted are the facts of what’s actually happening at the facility and others like it.
Let's start with the first part of your question. According to federal records the average monthly cost to house and maintain the Homestead facility is $17 million per month. In other words, the per child cost of running the facility is $750 per day. The range of children being held at the facility peaked at 15,000 last year and currently stands at around 11,500. The average child is held for 67 days before being reunited with family either to be deported outside of the US or inside if parents were granted status which happens approximately 35% of the time. The average minor detained in the Homestead facility costs American taxpayers about $50,250.
I’m sure you’ve never heard that story before. Despite the political noise that exists surrounding the facility, it operated as needed under President Obama and exists because of the immigration crisis at our southern border. Under US law anyone who steps foot on US soil must be processed under federal law. That means when they have children they have to be processed as well. Parents knowingly risk bringing their children into the United States and it’s up to our government to hold them until their parents have been fully processed. It’s all part of the reason why it’s so critical to expand the existing border barrier/wall. It would dramatically decrease these types of cases and would discourage parents from attempting to gain access illegally into the United States with their families.
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