The Corner

Politics & Policy

U.S. Taxpayers Pay about $1.2 Billion to Incarcerate Illegal Immigrants

The U.S. Department of Justice released statistics today regarding aliens incarcerated in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It found that as of March 25, there were 41,528 illegal immigrants in its prison system. The cost of this to the American taxpayer runs into the billions.

Of the 41,528 inmates, 22,541 have already received immigration orders for removal. Meanwhile, 13,886 aliens are being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for “possible removal,” and 5,101 aliens are “still pending adjudication.” (Pending adjudication means that a final disposition has yet to be settled, but ICE officers have charged these inmates under deportation cases.)

Which is to say that U.S. taxpayers are spending in the ballpark of $1.2 billion per year on the incarceration of illegal immigrants. The Federal Bureau of Prisons spends on average $29,226 per year on each inmate (this average takes into account all inmates, including those who need high security, medium security, and low security). Moreover, U.S. taxpayers are footing a bill of roughly $660 million per year — or $1.8 million per day — for inmates who have already received deportation orders.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced last month that he intends to speed up the deportation process of illegal immigrants who are being held in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. “We owe it to the American people,” he said, “to ensure that illegal aliens who have been convicted of crimes and are serving time in our federal prisons are expeditiously removed from our country as the law requires.”

Austin Yack — Austin Yack is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute and a University of California, Santa Barbara alumnus.

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