The Trump administration’s efforts to deport undocumented immigrants en masse just got more expensive. And the agency charged with loading people onto planes and flying them back to their home countries is blaming the coronavirus pandemic for the price hike.
In April, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, increased its payments under a contract awarded in 2017 to Classic Air Charter, a company that subcontracts chartered deportation flights out of the country, primarily to Mexico and Central and South America, but also, more recently to other regions.
ICE attributed the price hike to the novel coronavirus. The increase swells the already high cost that the federal government pays to fly undocumented immigrants out of the country. The two awards to Classic Air under its ICE contract since the pandemic began, each for $50.7 million, were the largest it’s received under the contract since it was inked three years ago. The next largest, for $46.6 million, came in May 2019, but prior to the coronavirus pandemic, ICE awards under the contract averaged just $12.7 million.