The ongoing crisis at detention centers on the southern U.S. border is costing American taxpayers more than $4.5 million per day.
Health and Human Services (HHS) told Yahoo Finance that of the 13,000 children in its care, 2,594 are staying at the two influx shelters at Homestead, Florida, and Carrizo Springs, Texas. About $2 million is spent each day for those nearly 2,600 children staying at those two facilities. Taxpayers are spending $2.7 million to house the remaining 10,406 children at permanent HHS facilities, bringing the total to roughly $4.7 million.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General (IG) released a blistering report on Tuesday, slamming the Department for substandard conditions where detained children didn’t have access to showers, changes of clothes, or hot meals.
prolonged detention of children and adults in the Rio Grande Valley.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) criticized President Donald Trump, saying there had to be a “better way” of securing the borders. “We don’t think that we have to put children in cages to do it,” she said, calling Trump’s immigration policies “outside the circle of civilized human behavior.”
Legally, unaccompanied children and children with a parent or legal guardian are to be taken care of by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). HHS says it has 13,000 children its agency’s care. Children are kept in one of two types of facilities: temporary (emergency influx shelters) and permanent. According to HHS, while it costs $256 a day to house children at permanent HHS facilities, the figure balloons at temporary shelters to $775 a night.
‘Absolutely chilling to see’
Homestead has drawn the ire of both politicians and activists, who are trying to get the facility in Florida (a former Job Corps facility) shut down.
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has introduced the “Shut Down Child Prison Camps” act in a bid to permanently close the shelter. After visiting the site earlier in the year, the senator tweeted: “It was absolutely chilling to see so many children locked up in prison camps. They should be in homes, playgrounds, and schools!”
Responding to requests from Yahoo Finance, the agency said “the safety and care of UAC is our top priority. ORR has worked aggressively to meet its responsibility, by law, to provide shelter for unaccompanied children referred to its care by the Department of Homeland Security.”
In the private sector, Bank of America decided it would no longer finance companies involved in immigrant detention centers and called on policy makers to take on immigration reform.
Ballooning costs of detaining migrant children
While American taxpayers are currently spending nearly $5 million each day on detaining children at HHS facilities, it pales in comparison to the totality of the border crisis, and what has been spent so far this fiscal year.
HHS isn’t the only government agency inundated thanks to an exploding crisis at the southwest border. So have sister agencies Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).