President Trump’s immigration crackdown has not come cheap. Take the cost of deportation: Immigration and Customs Enforcement has its own airline operation to fly deportees back home. So far this fiscal year, it’s $107 million over budget, NPR reports. ICE Air is busier than ever because of stepped up deportations and more countries agreeing to take back deportees from the U.S. The cost to keep up the pace has jumped 30 percent this fiscal year. Ten times a week, an unmarked white jetliner lands in Guatemala City and disgorges a hundred unhappy passengers. They check in with immigration, and spill out of double-doors, ready to sneak back to the U.S. border, or restart their lives at home.
“I left Guatemala in 1983,” said Luis Alberto Castro, 53. He overstayed a student visa 35 years ago, started a remodeling business in Salt Lake City, raised a family, then got arrested and deported. Castro was picked up by immigration agents after he was pulled over by the cops for speeding. He complains ICE Air treated everyone like a felon. “We were handcuffed the whole time,” he said. “They shouldn’t be treating us like total criminals.” On the flight from Mesa, Az., to Guatemala City, there were no in-flight movies. No pillows. No pretzels. Lunch was a sandwich. “No bologna, no ham, no nothing. Just cheese with a coupla pieces of bread,” he says. ICE Air flew more than 97,000 migrants home last year. Most went to Guatemala, followed, in order, by Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Ecuador, and Colombia.