It costs the US government millions to keep immigrant parents and children separated

In limbo.
In limbo.
Image: Reuters, courtesy CBP/Handout
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The United States is spending an awful lot on its new family separation policy. The huge influx of mostly Central American children in need of care will require new facilities and a wave of hiring, show multiple reports on recent government contracts.

Building new “tent cities”

It costs $775 per night to keep a child in the “tent cities” being constructed to house rising numbers of migrant minors who have been separated from their parents, reports NBC News. That’s more than three times the cost of keeping detained children in a permanent shelter, and it’s twice the cost of keeping children in already established detention centers with their parents. 

The big cost difference is due to the fact that shelters and detention centers are permanent structures, while the temporary tent cities are emergency structures that must be constructed and staffed on short notice.

Replacing parents

Even in pre-existing shelters, extra staffing required to replace parents’ care for children’s basic needs will cost money. Firms profiting from the policy, like General Dynamics, have been advertising jobs to care for the influx of children, some as young as three-months-old.

According to Bloomberg, the government plans to pay more than $450 millions to a nonprofit called Southwest Key Programs to care for migrant children. (The extent to which the organization is “not for profit” is debatable: CEO Juan Sanchez was paid $1.5 million in 2016.)

Over 2,340 children have been taken from parents illegally crossing the border since early May. Children are kept in government custody for an average of two months.