The true costs of deportation
To truly understand the immigration process you must first understand the detention centers that stand behind it. When a person is suspected of being undocumented they are generally placed into detention. In many cases they are moved to centers that are far from their home – making it difficult for families to visit or even hire qualified attorneys to work on their cases. The families also must pay a premium for their detained loved one to be able to call home. Then they need to put money into their commissary account so they can purchase the basics and food items outside of the cafeteria. Then there also the high cost of attorney fees. When your breadwinner is detained – this can be a huge expense.
The private prison industry which controls the detention centers, is paid an estimated $200 - $250 per day – per immigrant. The average immigrant can be detained for 3-6 months while their case processes in the slow moving system. Let’s do a little quick math – and let’s do it on the low end for fairness sake – looking at one immigrant, we will call him Juan, at $200 per day, for 3 months (figuring 30 days per month) – that is a total of $18,000 that the American tax payers are paying for this. Also consider that most Juan’s have been in the country an average of 15 years, have created families, and laid down roots and are considered law abiding citizens of their communities. This in my opinion is a travesty and a scam of sorts on the American people – carried on immigrants and their families backs. Oh did I forget to mention that the average cost of deporting 1 individual is estimated at another $26,000! Wow – I bet those amounts combined are more than Juan was making a year and was able to support his family on. Now that he has been deported – we must consider those costs to the American people:
• Are Juan’s children now in foster care? Tax payers will cover this cost. (There are currently 5,100 children in foster care due to detention/deportations)
• Was Juan actually lucky and his children are still here with loved ones? If so chances are without Juan’s income/support they may need to rely on the welfare system to get by. Tax payers will cover this cost.
• Was Juan using a Government issued ITIN number to pay his taxes? Tax payers have now lost those funds in the tax system.
• Juan’s family will surely at all costs send him money to whatever foreign land he was returned to in order to help him survive. That is money leaving the US economy.
• Juan was living here prior to his deportation – as my grandfather says – nothing is free. So Juan was in some manner investing in the housing market – either as a renter or homeowner. In either case, his monies were contributing to property taxes. That money is now lost.
• With 400,000 deportations in 2011 alone, in the middle of a housing crisis, how can we re-coup new renters/homeowners into our shattered housing market. Simple answer – we cannot. It takes at least 18 years to grow a new renter/homeowner.
• Perhaps Juan was a DREAMer (eligible for the Dream Act should it ever pass Congress). Juan may have been in school and be a highly educated, articulate contributor. We have lost that opportunity for him to bring his hopes, dreams, education and well known entrepreneurial spirit to the American workplace. Gone, lost.
• Juan surely ate here. Juan surely occasionally purchased goods and services such as clothes, shoes, electricity services, etc. Well, now not only have we spent money to remove Juan but we have lost his financial contributions to our economy. As well as the retail taxes that are paid on every retail transaction. Forever.
• Juan may have been working for a small business or farmer who depends on low income workers to keep their business afloat. Deport enough Juan’s – and the business will inevitably fail. In fact, we have all heard – fruit has rotted in the fields in both Georgia and Alabama due to the new harsh immigration laws. Those businesses, owned and depended on by American citizens – have now failed. In fact, there are 80,000 open jobs in Alabama due to these laws. If you are an out of work American Citizen looking for work – there are plenty available in the fields. Call them up if you are willing to do the hard work required.
I can go on and on about the monies lost by deporting Juan and its affect on America as a whole. But the truest cost, the cost that cannot be counted – cannot be measured – is the cost to his family. Quite possibly, even an American family. Children left with no father, or mother. Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grand-parents – gone. Snatched from their once productive lives and family members left clinging emotionally damaged and scarred for life. How do we count this? How do we consider this? More importantly – why is this cost NOT being considered in deportations?
I’m not good at math. In fact, as a child my grandmother made me take a summer class called “Learn to Love Math” – epic fail on that one Memaw. I never learned to love math – and I am not sure I ever will. But my question, that even I consider to be a simple math question, is which cost is greater – reviewing and allowing hardworking immigrants an opportunity to prove themselves and a way to adjust their status – or following the “deport-them-all” mentality? I have been able to find numbers on a wide range of these issues – but no simple bottom line number. One must be higher than the other – one must be less. And as previously stated – there is no way to perform math on the human effect of deportations and the damage left behind.
So, it was with all of these things in mind that we began our own journey into the bowels of the immigration system. I must admit – most of these numbers were just arguments for my cause. Statistics to quote in an attempt to fight my own battle. To ensure that my husband, mi amor, father to my children, was not deported to become one of those numbers.
The first night I met my husband I was attempting to show off my Spanish. Which, by the way, is really non-existent. The only Spanish I knew was from Daddy Yankee or Wisin Y Yandel. Pero, I tried to impress. Let him know that I was working on it. And so I whispered to him……….no me deja sola. And in the weeks leading up to our immigration court date I screamed it to the heavens. I pleaded with the winds to carry my cry to ears that could understand that the punishment for the crime did not fit. NO ME DEJA SOLA, NO ME DEJA SOLA, NO ME DEJA SOLA, NO ME DEJA SOLA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.
(Editor's note: In March, Jeresia Noris accompanied her husband Jose Luis Noris to Orlando where a Federal Judge in Immigration Court granted administrative closure to Jose Luis Noris' deportation order.)