Deported immigrants get their last flight on 'ICE Air'
By NOMAAN MERCHANT and ANGELIKI KASTANIS
HOUSTON (AP) - An obscure division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement operates hundreds of flights each year to remove immigrants.
Deportation flights are big business: The U.S. government has spent $1 billion on them in the last decade, and the Trump administration is seeking to raise ICE's budget for charter flights by 30 percent.
ICE Air Operations transports detained immigrants between American cities and, for those with final removal orders, back to their home countries. About 100,000 people a year are deported on such flights.
ICE shifted to chartering private planes about a decade ago and says the flights save money and give it more flexibility.
But migrant advocacy groups say ICE Air is an example of how tougher immigration enforcement - from detention to tracking to removal - enriches private companies.
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