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What’s another $154 billion?

by Frank Sharry on 10/14/2008 at 7:50pm

And we thought the bank bailout was expensive.

Remember the immigration raid at the Agriprocessors Inc. meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, back in May? According to today’s Des Moines Register, the raid set taxpayers back $5.2 million. According to the newspaper, “That means it has cost taxpayers an average of $13,396 for each of the 389 illegal immigrants taken into custody.”

Keep in mind that the $5.2 million – disclosed through a Freedom of Information Act request with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ‑ is only what ICE spent.  That doesn’t include the cost of criminal trials against the workers charged with ID crimes, indigent defense, and prison.  According to an accompanying editorial in the Des Moines Register, “Prison costs alone ran $590,000 a month as of mid-summer.”

So let’s do the math, shall we? If it cost $13,396 to arrest each undocumented worker in the United States, and estimates are that there are at least 11.5 million people who fit that definition, then you, I, and the rest of American taxpayers could be looking at forking over $154 billion to ICE alone.

Of course, some people argue that no price is too high for law and order. U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-IA, said laws must be enforced, no matter the price tag.

“If we start saying, ‘Well, it costs too much money to enforce the law,’ then we will see more and more of these radical, pro-illegal immigration activists drive more wedges between us and make it harder to enforce the law,” King said.

Maybe King has that kind of money, but most of us sure don’t.

The Des Moines Register comes to this conclusion: We need to do more than just seal our borders and arrest everyone here illegally. We need comprehensive reform. “A comprehensive plan that brings illegal immigrants out of society’s shadows is the better approach,” it said. “The next president must lead this nation in building consensus around rational immigration policy, for the sake of our economy and our conscience.”

Not to mention our wallets.

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