The Math of Immigration Detention

National Immigration Forum
Date of Publication: 
August, 2012
Source Organization: 
National Immigration Forum

Despite the difficult economic times, the U.S. government is spending "excessively" on immigrant detention facilities and initiatives. The fiscal year 2013 budget request for the Department of Homeland Security's Custody Operations, which includes immigration detention, totals around $2 billion. This report by the National Immigration Forum, The Math of Immigration Detention, shows that the government will spend about $5.4 million per day on detaining immigrants. Divided among 32,800 daily detention beds, that amounts to $164 per day for each immigrant. 

Calling the "exorbitant spending wasted on detaining hundreds of thousands of immigrants annually" a "symptom of our broken immigration system," the report shows how taxpayers can save 80 percent of this immigrant detention tab if less expensive alternatives are explored and if more focus is given to immigrants convicted of serious crimes. 

Download now or view online


National Immigration Forum. (2012). The Math of Immigration Detention: Runaway Costs for Immigration Detention Do Not Add Up to Sensible Policies. Washington, D.C.: National Immigration Forum. Retrieved from