It would cost each U.S. taxpayer about $500 to deport all 11.1 million immigrants estimated to be living here without permission, the Columbus Dispatch reports. On average, each deportation cost taxpayers more than $6,000 in 2010. The amount Americans spend annually to detain and deport immigrants increased by more than 100 percent since 2005, to $2.55 billion in 2010. During the same period, the number of people deported more than doubled, to more than 390,000.
Immigrant-rights activists question whether the mass deportations are money well spent. Most illegal immigrants are here to build productive lives and contribute to the economy, said Ruben Castilla Herrera of the Ohio Action Circle, a statewide grass-roots immigration-rights coalition. Prosecuting and imprisoning illegal immigrants takes up much of the federal court system’s time. Almost half the cases prosecuted in federal courts during the first 11 months of 2010 were immigration-related, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. About 11 percent of people in federal prisons were convicted of immigration-law violations. It costs about $24,000 annually to hold someone in federal prison.