How much is it costing taxpayers to house immigrants in detention centers?

How much is it costing tax payers to house immigrants entering the U.S. illegally? CBS 4 Reporter Sydney Hernandez explains.

We've heard their story and the outrage family separation on the U.S.- Mexico border has caused.

But what about the side we haven't heard before: How much is it costing taxpayers to house immigrants entering illegally after they're captured?

Last fiscal year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spent $3.2 billion in identifying, arresting and detaining immigrants, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

That is not including agent's salaries.

According to ICE's fiscal year 2018 budget, on average, it costs $200 a day to maintain one adult in detention centers where they are given food, water, fresh clothes and a place to sleep —all paid for by taxpayers.

The detention center in McAllen, Texas, on Ursula Street costs $12.5 million to maintain.

During a ride along with Border Patrol, CBS 4 Valley Reporter Sydney Hernandez asked one woman from Honduras what her plan was when she arrived and if she wasn't deported.

Reporter: Is using government assistance, like food stamps, part of your plan?"
Immigrant: "Yes, well yes."

Her name is Reyna Flores and she traveled by caravan from Honduras to Mexico, deciding to come to the U.S. after she couldn't find a job back home.

After spending a day in Mexico, she crossed the Rio Grande on a raft because as she says, Mexico wasn't for her.

"I got scared over there. I'm not sure. I just didn't like it and I had a dream to make it here to the United States," said Flores.

With her at the U.S.-Mexico border was her 3-year-old daughter. Flores says she left behind two more children.

CBS 4 asked her with no legal status, how was she going to provide for herself and her 3-year-old daughter.

"I have a sister-in-law, my daughter's father's sister. She will help us she said," Flores said.

Although she doesn't qualify, CBS 4 Reporter Sydney Hernandez asked Flores if she will try to apply for government assistance, like food stamps. Her answer was simple: "Yes."

Reporter: Do you think it's fair that us, like Americans, we pay taxes, so you can live her even though you are illegal. Do you think it's fair?
Immigrant: "No, I don't think so, but like I said, we can work."

Loopholes in the system would allow her to qualify for WIC, Medicare, and other government assistance if she gave birth to a child on American soil while awaiting her immigration court date.

Something Border Patrol agents say is happening frequently.

"Agents are assisting in delivering of baby's births because illegal aliens are coming right at the time that they're about to give birth, literally given birth on the levy," said Border Patrol Agent Robert Rodriguez.

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