Housing A Separated Migrant Child Costs The US More Than An Admiral's BAH

Analysis
Customs and Border Protection

To take a migrant child from her parents at a U.S. point of entry, place her in a just-erected government tent city, and keep her separated from family costs the federal government a whopping $775 per child per night, according to the Department of Health and Human Services — more than twice what it would cost to house the children in detention with their families, and nearly six times more than a brigadier general's or rear admiral's housing allowance for New York City.


Occupants at Casa Padre, an immigrant shelter for unaccompanied minors, in Brownsville, Texas, are seen in this undated photo distributed ed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services June 14, 2018.HHS

The policy — which, under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" ramp-up of border arrests, has left officials unable to account for as many as 6,000 children in custody — costs so much because there's never been any major infrastructure for holding and arresting that many kids: the "the sudden urgency to bring in security, air conditioning, medical workers and other government contractors far surpasses the cost for structures that are routinely staffed," officials told NBC News, which first reported the $775 per child per night figure Wednesday morning.

Related: 11 States Pull National Guard Off Border Missions To Protest Child Separations »

That amounts to a cost of about $23,573 per child per month, on average. By comparison, an unaccompanied active duty flag officer with a rank of O7 receives a basic allowance for housing of $4,053 per month to live in New York City, one of the military's most costly BAH locations. (An E4 in New York receives $2,835 a month in BAH, or roughly 1/8 of the cost of housing an unaccompanied minor child who was taken from her family at the U.S. border.)

This undated photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families shows beds at the shelter used to house unaccompanied foreign children in Tornillo, Texas.HHS

Officials told NBC News that housing the children in a detention center with their parents would likely cost around $300 a night. But the administration has not taken that route, arguing that taking children from their parents when they cross the border — even if they are presenting themselves at a station of entry to claim asylum — is an appropriate form of law enforcement, whatever the cost.

Related: I Stand For The Flag, But The Flag Doesn't Stand For This »

"It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry, period," Trump adviser and immigration-policy architect Stephen Miller told the New York Times earlier this week. "The message is that no one is exempt from immigration law.”

WATCH NEXT:

An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington, June 15, 2005. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the Guantanamo prison against critics who want it closed by saying U.S. taxpayers have a big financial stake in it and no other facility could replace it at a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday. (Reuters/Jason Reed JIR/CN)

Senior defense officials offered a wide range of excuses to reporters on Wednesday about why they may not comply with a subpoena from House Democrats for documents related to the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

On Oct. 7, lawmakers subpoenaed information about military aid to Ukraine. Eight days later, a Pentagon official told them to pound sand in part because many of the documents requested are communications with the White House that are protected by executive privilege.

Read More Show Less

Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) will announce legislation Wednesday aiming to "fix" a new Trump administration citizenship policy that affects some children of U.S. service members stationed abroad.

Read More Show Less

The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.

Then the rhythmic clapping begins.

This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.

"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."

Read More Show Less

Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.

In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.

"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."



Well, I feel better. How about you?

On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.

"We do not know where they are," James Jeffrey told members of Congress of the 100+ escaped detainees. ISIS has about 18,000 "members" left in Iraq and Syria, according to recent Pentagon estimates.

A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."

"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.

President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.

"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."

The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."

Trump said that "small number of U.S. troops" would remain in Syria to protect oilfields.


Kade Kurita (U.S. Army photo(

Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.

"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.

Read More Show Less