On Tuesday an official from the Department of Health and Human Services admitted that the cost to the U.S. of putting separated migrant children into Trump’s new “tent cities” is several times more expensive than any of the other options available for taking care of the children.
EXCLUSIVE: Tent cities cost millions more than keeping migrant kids with parents https://t.co/sgRDa1yGOW
— Julia E. Ainsley (@JuliaEAinsley) June 20, 2018
The government is now estimating that the cost is at least $757 per night, far in excess of the cost to keep children with their parents in detention centers or even of holding them in more permanent shelters.
“Trump admin is choosing to spend $757 per person, per night of taxpayer dollars to keep children forcibly taken from parents…in tents.”
Trump admin is choosing to spend $757 per person, per night of taxpayer dollars to keep children forcibly taken from parents…in tents. https://t.co/lLHYbwyvkQ
— Dafna Linzer (@DafnaLinzer) June 20, 2018
This adds another new dimension to Trump’s border policy scandal. Not only is Trump’s policy wrong, hurtful, stupid and immoral, it also makes no fiscal sense.
According to NBC News, the reason for the high cost is that “the sudden urgency to bring in security, air conditioning, medical workers and other government contractors far surpasses the cost for structures that are routinely staffed.”
Permanent structures, like the converted Walmart called Casa Padre in Brownsville, Texas, costs just $256 per child each night, according to government officials.
And even more scandalous is that keeping children with their parents who are being held in detention centers costs just $298 per resident per night, according to an estimate from the agency in charge, HHS.
NBC news calculated that the cost to the taxpayers to operate each of the 400-bed temporary structures used in “tent cities” is more than $5 million per month.
An HHS spokesperson said that the agency is “aggressively looking for potential sites for more” of the costly temporary tent cities. These are needed, she said, to provide shelter for the expected large increase in the numbers of migrant children separated from their parents.
The head of the U.S. Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley recently said that he expects the number of separated children to double in the coming months as they become more efficient and effective in enforcing Trump’s zero tolerance policy.
Under the zero tolerance policy adults crossing illegally are criminally charged, and children traveling with them are forcefully removed and placed in temporary shelters.
Before the zero tolerance policy began, children and parents were kept together in ICE detention facilities for up to 20 days before being released with ankle monitors while waiting for their court hearings.
According to NBC News:
“Nearly 3,000 children have been separated from their parents since the Trump administration began separating migrant children from their parents in May. That number is expected to grow more rapidly as the administration streams more resources to the border for apprehending, transporting and detaining immigrants.”
“HHS has said it is holding nearly 12,000 immigrant children, most of whom crossed without a parent or legal guardian. The agency says the children stay in HHS facilities for 57 days on average before they are sent to live with a relative or placed in foster care.”
When the public realizes how much Trump’s immigration policies are costing U.S. taxpayers the GOP will be hurt politically while Trump’s approval ratings will keep dropping, and they are already at all-time lows.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.