Deporting Illegals Can Be Expensive, Slow

Matt Reed, Florida Today (Stuart, Florida), December 28, 2010

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More than three months and about $12,000 in detention costs later, illegal immigrant Ali Moussawi (aka Aldo Barone) appears to be home for the holidays.

Moussawi is an Italian chef and restaurant manager who tried to turn himself in to immigration authorities after seven years of work in the shadows of Florida’s service industry. Although he had no visa, paid no taxes and once served jail time for theft, Moussawi had not recently committed a crime. So, neither the Melbourne police, the Border Patrol nor U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would take him in.

I had arranged to drive the man who called himself “Aldo” to ICE offices in Orlando. {snip}

“I can confirm that he was removed to his home country of Italy,” ICE spokeswoman Dani told me when I checked on him last week.

COSTLY DETENTION

Moussawi, 42, exposed a little-understood hole in U.S. immigration enforcement–a strategy that targets only dangerous criminals and spends billions on border enforcement but lets millions of illegal workers such as Moussawi walk free.

His months awaiting deportation exposed another truth about illegal immigration: Rounding up and expelling aliens from Florida is a slow, expensive and secretive process.

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Moussawi had received his deportation orders from a judge within “a couple days” of arriving at Krome, he said. But weeks passed, then months. Officials would not tell him why he remained.

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ICE typically “removes” aliens from Florida on commercial flights or, sometimes, chartered planes if it has enough detainees bound for the same country. Forget buses. Only one-third of illegal immigrants in Florida come from Mexico or Central America. Most come from Europe, South America, the Caribbean and Asia.

One-way flights from Miami to Rome cost as little as $693 on Air Berlin and $906 on Swiss Air.

By comparison, housing someone at an ICE detention facility costs $846 per week, on average–nearly three times the cost for male inmates at Florida prisons.

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