2011-10-19

Deportations: Getting Our Money's Worth?

In this morning's news, I learned that 396,906 people were deported during the year that ended September 30, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This is the highest single-year total for deportations in ICE's history -- 3.4 times the 117,000 total deportations in 2000. Fifty-five percent -- the highest proportion in a decade -- of last year's deportees had felony or misdemeanor convictions. More than 180,000 were deported without any conviction.

These record-breaking deportation rates cost US taxpayers last year over $9 billion: $23,000 per individual for a complete deportation process. What are we getting for our money?

1. Pointlessness. Undocumented immigration rates have plummeted since 2007, the undocumented population is down substantially, and violent crimes are at their lowest levels in 40 years. If deportation was ever necessary, it is less so now.

2. Destruction of families. Deportations wreak devastation on Latino communities across the US. Millions live with the prospect that a simple traffic stop could lead to the breakup of their families.

3. Harm to our economy. Undocumented immigrants purchase goods and services, contribute labor, and pay taxes. Our country is spending over $ 9 billion just to be able to shoot itself in the foot.

4. It makes us meaner and sadder people. Compassion, however, brings joy to those who give as well as receive it. As Bob Hope once said, "If you haven't any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble."