Photo: California Taxpayers Spend $1 Billion a Year to Keep Undocumented Immigrants Jailed
According to data from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from December 2010, just under 17,000 inmates in the state are on hold for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and in addition, there are just under 4,000 prisoners listed as potential ICE holds. At a cost of almost $45,000 a year to house an inmate, that’s a cost of nearly $1 billion to house the undocumented immigrants.
Bakersfield Assemblywoman Shannon Grove says the cost is a big worry for lawmakers, but more so for taxpayers.
“It’s too much money,” said state Sen. Michael Rubio (D-Bakersfield), who has been working on legislation to address the cost of medical treatment for inmates.
The immigrants detained at the time of the data primarily hail from Mexico – 15,985 total (14,057 undocumented), followed by El Salvador, with 1,231 inmates (1,118 undocumented).
Once undocumented immigrants serve their time in jail, they are turned over to ICE where they await a hearing that determines whether or not they will be deported.
In the end, California taxpayers, which do include some undocumented immigrants, pay $929,762,432 a year to house the detainees.
While immigrant advocates point out that some undocumented immigrants using other’s Social Security cards are paying taxes, and in fact pay into the system without being able to obtain their refund, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) says it doesn’t even begin to cover the cost of the undocumented in the state’s jails and prisons.
“FAIR estimates that state and local taxes from illegal aliens amount to $4 billion per year,” a statement said. “This does not come close to offsetting the total costs of illegal immigration, especially in California, where illegal immigration costs the state $21.8 billion a year.”