Abolishing ICE? Here’s the price tag

“Abolish ICE” has become the catchphrase of a new protest, garnering support from both progressive politicians and many of their constituents. But getting rid of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would mean stopping the group that works to prevent terrorism and deport illegal immigrants engaging in criminal activity.

ICE was created in 2003 in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This group was created to defend the U.S border and people. Immigration enforcement is the largest single area of responsibility for ICE, the majority of ICE’s immigration enforcement work takes place within the country – although certain responsibilities are done in close cooperation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

ICE also removes recent illegal immigrants, and those who are engaging in criminal activity. ICE investigates the illegal movement of people and goods, including child trafficking, gun smuggling and the illegal drug trade. ICE also works to counter terrorism, hence its creation following 9/11.

For ICE to complete these tasks it requires a workforce of about 20,000 employees. For the agency to be abolished these workers would presumably be out of a job and would have to seek employment elsewhere. In transition it is possible that they would have to collect unemployment benefits for a period of time. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average monthly unemployment benefit payout in the year through May was $1,413.60. This means that 20,000 unemployed ICE workers would cost taxpayers $28.23 million per month.

ICE has been working to combat the opioid crisis. In its fiscal year 2017, ICE seized nearly 2,400 pounds of fentanyl nationally. In 2017, in its fight to combat transnational gangs, ICE made 4,818 criminal arrests, including 796 arrests of MS-13 gang members.