The cost of repatriation
As we reel from the titanic $3.7 bill Barack Obama just dropped on us for taking care of the amnesty-seekers he invited across the border, it is not unreasonable to ask how much it would cost to send them all back home. For some reason, Sarah Smith at Politico seems to think it’s a big deal that Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) initial estimate of the cost for buying every Unaccompanied Alien Child a first-class plane ticket back to their country of origin was a bit low. Coburn figured $8 million at first, but then – oh my God, stop the presses! – thought about it some more and bumped it up to “less than $20 million.” Which turns out to be right in line with what Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) calculated, and Johnson showed his math:
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) also jumped on the idea of flying the children home Wednesday morning in a CNN interview — but with a different cost estimate than the one Coburn offered.
“I went online earlier,” Johnson said on CNN. “There are airfares as low as $207 to return these children in a humane fashion.”
Johnson looked up five separate airfares as options for getting the unaccompanied children back to their countries of origin, he told POLITICO on Wednesday afternoon. He averaged the costs to a fare of $250 a child and found that the total cost of flying the children home — though not first class — came to $14 million.
Ernest Istook at the Washington Times notes that Obama’s fishy spending request includes a lot of numbers that don’t add up, but works out to $250 per day per illegal alien if we accept the numbers it contains, didn’t comparison-shop quite as hard as Senator Johnson, because he came up with $667 per one-way ticket. Actually, since he notes Obama’s clearly not just appropriating money for children, maybe he didn’t apply discounts for unaccompanied minors as vigorously as Johnson did. Istook’s total cost of repatriation works out to $19.6 million:
If the money is all for detention, then the $250 per person reveals the plan is to house 9,632 adults for a year at taxpayers’ expense. Combine 19,726 minors with 9,632 adults and you have 29,358 people. But it gets worse. The request is for a “supplemental appropriation.” In budget lingo, that typically means it’s for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. If these funds don’t cover a full year, either the cost per person is much higher or the number of people is much higher. If the daily cost per person is less than $250, then the small city of illegal aliens we’re supporting will be larger than 29,358. Although Obama asks for lots of money to take care of people permanently, he gives zero details about a timeframe for deporting or repatriating any of the persons involved.
The $250 a day figure compares with the $667 one-way cost of an airline ticket from McAllen, Texas, to Guatemala City, Guatemala, according to both Orbitz and Priceline. The combined airfare for 29,358 passengers would be $19.6 million. That is one-half of 1 percent of President Obama’s overall $3.8 billion request. Volume discounts and government rates would yield even lower fares. But even without discounts, sending everyone home right away saves taxpayers 99.5 percent!
It’s also closer to fly them from McAllen to Guatemala City than to Murietta, California. Only 1,297 miles compared to 1,549 miles. And no protesters.
Even if we spring for luxury meals and in-flight movies, we’re still an order of magnitude south of what Obama wants to spend on avoiding his Constitutional duty to protect the border and American citizenship. And it’s silly to think we’d have to pay for first-class tickets home, at the going Orbitz rate. We’ve got transport planes that can do the job, or we could get a discount chartering entire jetliners.
By the way, when this story first started breaking big a few weeks ago, we were told $9.6 million of taxpayer money was already sent to the corrupt governments of Central America to cover “repatriation” costs. That’s almost half what it would take to send all the child refugees home on first-class flights. Since virtually no one is getting repatriated at the moment, may I ask what happened to that $9.6 million?
I can’t help noticing that the parents of these children did not send them to America first-class, although apparently some of them did spring for sneakers with Barack Obama’s face on them. While we’re all having a big national argument about the demands of compassion, can we talk about the inhumanity of sending your kids on a thousand-mile journey, in the company of violent criminals, to violate the sovereign laws of another country, based on your belief that the current President of that country will help you violate them? Also, you know it won’t be long before we’re told it’s absolutely inhuman to keep the Unaccompanied Alien Children away from their parents, so we have to bring the parents into the United States too… thus absorbing a large population of people who think it’s okay to hand your small child over smugglers.
Remember the crazy talking point Obama floated this week, about how some Bush-era law forced him to throw the border open? Istook demolishes that quite thoroughly, by quoting the parts of the relevant statue that Obama’s hoping you don’t read:
Regarding the unaccompanied juveniles, officials such as Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson don’t seem to have read the law. Johnson told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the top priority is “doing right by the children.” Actually, the law states the top priority is to repatriate those children to their country of origin. Before the lanague of that controversial 2008 statute outlines the red-tape processing, it explicitly states the goal of that process, namely that “the Secretary of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, shall develop policies and procedures to ensure that unaccompanied alien children in the United States are safely repatriated to their country of nationality or of last habitual residence.” That bears repeating: The statute says the goal is that the unaccompanied alien children “are safely repatriated to their country of nationality or of last habitual residence.” Interestingly, that law foresees a problem if minors are released in the U.S. to custody of fellow illegal aliens. The statute requires officials to make sure that a potential custodian is someone who is trained to recognize his “responsibility to attempt to ensure the child’s appearance at all immigration proceedings.” Obviously, that disqualifies anyone who himself is in the country illegally.
And yet, as we learned yesterday, the Administration is making no effort to verify the legal residency status of the distant relatives turning up at detention centers to pick up the unaccompanied minors. So Obama is blatantly violating the same law he keeps claiming has tied his hands on deportations – the law that actually stipulates repatriation should be his top priority. How much would it cost us to buy him a one-way ticket to Guatemala, versus all the billions that would save us? Repatriation is also far more compassionate than piling children up in detention centers, or releasing them to suspicious characters who claim to be their aunts and uncles. That’s because repatriating the first 50,000 unaccompanied minors is the one and only thing that will prevent the next 50,000 from making a dangerous journey on the coyote express and landing in disease-riddled detention camps. And believe me, the next 50,000 (plus a couple hundred thousand more adults) will pile up faster than the first group did. This is still escalating. Next year is projected to be considerably worse than this year. The $3.7 billion Obama wants now is just seed money, a down payment on far greater costs to come. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) made that point to National Review:
Cruz said that only five percent of the funding would provide for “boots on the ground” along the southern border. “This is an HHS and social services bill that is entitled border security to make it appear as if it’s responding to the problem,” Cruz told National Review Online.
“But this supplemental bill is an admission by the president that he has no intention of solving this problem, and, indeed, that he anticipates it continuing indefinitely, because he is simply asking for money to deal with those kids who are coming after they’ve been brutalized, rather than taking the necessary steps to prevent them from coming here in the first place, to prevent them from being victimized,” Cruz also said.
It has begun dawning on people outside the conservative logic-sphere that a mighty sinkhole of federal spending is opening before us. Or, in Jesse Jackson’s case, he thinks a demand for $4 billion on behalf of people who aren’t American citizens is a great opportunity for him to demand a few billion more for people who are, as reported by the Washington Times:
The Rev. Jesse Jackson criticized President Obama for putting unaccompanied alien children before Chicago, and argued that the federal government should award the Windy City $2 billion to help combat violence. “If we can find $4 billion for those children — and we should — we can find $2 billion for Chicago,” Mr. Jackson said, a CBS-affiliated radio station reported Wednesday. “There are more children involved, and more have been killed, and more have been shot,” he said.
Jackson was thoroughly upstaged by Ms. Bernadette Lancelin of Houston, who made the point about the cost savings of repatriation with beepworthy passion:
True compassion, not to mention duty and the rule of law, involves looking beyond the moment and seeing the big picture. The hard, cold fact is that the most monstrously inhumane thing anyone can do right now is encourage the Unaccompanied Alien Child tsunami to continue. Children are dying on the way here. John Nolte of Breitbart News makes that point in discussing radio host Glenn Beck’s ostentatious display of charity for the young minors, bringing several truckloads of goods out to the refugee camps:
The problem isn’t what Beck did. The problem is how he did it.
Beck’s desire to help kids caught in a geopolitical crossfire through no fault of their own is laudable. We all want to help. I’ve yet to hear anyone argue that it’s wrong to use American taxpayer dollars to feed, house, and offer medical care to these children. No one opposes that.
Beck thinks more needs to be done.
But for Beck (and the media currently using him to club conservatives) to pretend there isn’t a compassionate argument to be made against what Beck’s doing is simply wrong, unfair, and a bit sanctimonious.
It’s just a fact that these children are already being cared for once they arrive here. I’m not even sure they need Beck’s charity. Regardless, the unthinkable danger for them occurs during the journey across a continent to get here. It’s not just the natural elements these children have to worry about, I’m hearing on the news that fully one-third of young girls are sexually assaulted during the trip.
Therefore, the truly compassionate thing to do is to ensure you’re not doing anything that might encourage more parents to send their unaccompanied children on that harrowing trek. And it is not insane, unreasonable, or lacking in compassion to argue that news of a major American media figure greeting children at the border with toys could be used by the drug smugglers and human traffickers already exploiting these kids as a way to recruit more.
Beck also isn’t doing anyone any favors by giving the amnesty caucus another rhetorical club to beat the only people talking sense on the border crisis – not by the charitable donation itself, but with the accompanying rhetoric about how he’s the only conservative with a heart. The people who can’t wait to create the next humanitarian crisis, followed by further damage to America’s working poor, are made more powerful when they can claim their opponents are beasts.
Is Beck planning to greet each new wave of 50,000 unaccompanied minors with another few truckloads of material? And why isn’t he shipping those materials to the countries these kids are coming from – which, we are told, have become violent hell-pits of poverty, functionally equivalent to war zones? In fact, since the Unaccompanied Alien Children who made it across the border are indisputably receiving food, shelter, and medical care already, don’t the kids back in Honduras and Guatemala need Beck’s charity more?
I do not ask that question with a trace of sarcasm. I have great respect for acts of private charity. I care what happens to the children of Central America, including the large number who will not be handed over to thugs for shipment to the United States. It is our duty to ensure this invasion stops as quickly as possible – not just our government’s legal duty to American citizens, but also our duty as Americans to avoid ruining lives by encouraging people to subject innocent children to horrible ordeals.
Update: I should add that I’m assuming the alien children held in U.S. detention centers are being cared for, but nobody really knows for sure, because the media is required to wear blindfolds, muzzles, and straitjackets when touring the camps. They can’t take pictures, shoot video, or ask any questions. Naturally, the media is willing to take this S&M treatment from President Boyfriend without much complaint.
Update: Reuters reports that a cargo train loaded with another 1,300 “migrants” has derailed in Mexico, leaving the passengers, many of them children, stranded.