Immigration and Customs Averages 727 Deportations a Day by Air

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Guatemalans being returned to Guatemala on an ICE flight (photo: John Moore, Getty Images)

On any given day in the United States, more than 700 immigrants are being put onto taxpayer-chartered planes and flown out of the country as part of their deportation.


The volume of air deportations was revealed in an audit (pdf) of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by the inspector general of its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security. The report shows that from October 2010 to March 2014 ICE put 930,435 immigrants on planes it chartered to fly them home, an average of about 727 deportations a day.


Despite the volume of passengers on ICE Air Operations, there are often plenty of empty seats on those planes. The audit analyzed 5,699 flights to find if ICE is using the planes to its full advantage. Of those flights, 299, or 5%, were less than 40% full. Another 754, or 13%, operated 40% to 60% full. If ICE had operated its flights at full capacity, it could have saved as much as $41.1 million.


The report also documented instances of deportees being flown around the United States, often back and forth between their original location and other cities several times, before finally being sent to their home countries.


ICE pays about $8,400 per hour to operate the charter planes, regardless of how many passengers they’re carrying.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

ICE Air Transportation of Detainees Could Be More Effective (Department of Homeland Security Inspector General) (pdf)

Audit Reveals Millions Of Dollars Wasted To Deport Immigrants (by Esther Yu-Hsi Lee, ThinkProgress)

U.S. Sends Illegal Immigrants Home on Expensive Charter Flights That Are Largely Empty (by Josh Hicks, Washington Post)

There’s Money to be Made on Flood of Child Immigrants (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Illegal Border Crossings Drop So Much that Homeland Security Halts Program to Fly Immigrants to Mexico (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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