Report: Taxpayer Cost for Each Illegal ‘Unaccompanied Child’ Budgeted at $17,613

A boy from Honduras watches a movie at a detention facility run by the U.S. Border Patrol
File Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

As the influx of unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors from Central America has increased, so too has the cost to assist each migrant, according to a new report from the Center for Immigration Studies.

CIS reveals that the cost per “unaccompanied alien child” has more than doubled since FY 2010, when the cost per UAC was $8,217. CIS projects that the cost in FY 2017 will reach $17,613.

CIS senior researcher Nayla Rush, the author of the report, reached the cost per UAC by looking at the total budget requests for UACs in FY 2017 and the number of UACs expected to illegally cross into the U.S. in FY 2017.

“The Unaccompanied Children (UC) program FY 2017 request is $1.226 billion in funding, which is an increase of $278 million from the FY 2016 enacted level of $948 million,” the report reads. “Also included in this FY 2017 Unaccompanied Children program budget request is a contingency fund triggering additional funds not to exceed $400 million. It is expected $95 million will be used from this contingency fund in FY 2017.”

The Obama administration is projecting that it will need to cope with at least another 75,000 UACs illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in FY 2017.

CIS Graph 5_2

The U.S.-Mexico border has experienced a surge in illegal immigration from Central America in recent years with UACs and “family units” crossing into the U.S., seeking to stay. UACs from noncontiguous countries in the are granted special treatment once apprehended in the U.S.,  and placed in the care of — often other illegal immigrant — parents and sponsors ostensibly to await immigration hearings.

As Rush details, “From 8,000 in FY 2008, the number of apprehended unaccompanied alien children (UACs) grew to 69,000 in FY 2014. After a slowdown last year (around 40,000 apprehended), border officials are expecting significant increases throughout FY 2016 and into FY 2017 (up to 75,000, if not more). According to DHS,the number of UACs coming across the border almost doubled in FY 2016 compared to the same period in FY 2015.”

While immigration activists and Democrats blame the influx on “push factors” like violence in the migrants’ home countries. Immigration hawks and Republicans have pointed to the Obama administration’s dilution of immigration law and executive amnesty for the migration.

The Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, chaired by noted immigration hawk Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), recently found that just 3.6 percent of the UACs apprehended illegally entering the U.S. over the past 2.5 years have been sent back to their home countries.


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