Government spends millions deporting undocumented immigrants on charter planes

money1Up to $41.1m in potential cost savings has been missed by the US government when transporting undocumented immigrants on charter flights due to resources being used in an inefficient manner, including sending immigrants on planes with many empty seats, according to a government watchdog.

A report released this month by the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General reveals that although the responsibilities of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Air Operations were met by transporting 930,435 undocumented immigrant detainees over the course of a period of three and a half years, it failed to fill seats in an effective manner and to document sufficient data on the detainees.

The report states that it costs ICE Air, which is responsible for transporting immigrant detainees both inside and outside the United States, $8,419 per hour for each charter flights. This is regardless of the number of passengers, meaning that ICE missed out on possible savings due to ineffective data capture, management and planning. “As a result, ICE Air operated charter flights with empty seats and could have realized cost savings of up to $41.1 million upon determining optimum flight capacity,” the report claims, adding: “Although the estimated potential cost savings will not be claimed as funds put to better use, it is an indicator of ICE Air’s potential for future cost savings.”

ICE Air claims to have spent around $598m between October 2010 and March 2014, of which $464m was spent on charter flights.