by Ernest Istook, Washington Times

We taxpayers are expected to house, feed, clothe and care for almost 30,000 illegal aliens for a full year, according to the White House’s official request. That’s a small city.

Instead, we could fly all of them home for one-half of 1 percent of the $3.8 billion that President Obama proposes we spend. That’s a savings of 99.5 percent!

Most of his proposal is to pay living expenses. At the unofficial reported cost of $250 per person per day, President Barack Obama is proposing we spend $1.8 billion “to provide appropriate care for unaccompanied children.” That works out to 19,726 minors for a year. (The official term for them, written into federal statute, is “undocumented alien children.” Not undocumented immigrants, migrants or refugees. Those other terms are efforts at propaganda.)

In addition, Obama wants another $879 million “for detention and removal of apprehended undocumented adults traveling with children,” and “alternatives to detention programs” for these adults. He blends “removal” with “detention” to make it impossible to determine how many removals are planned.

If the money is all for detention, then the $250 per person reveals the plan is to house 9,632 adults for a year at taxpayers’ expense.

Combine 19,726 minors with 9,632 adults and you have 29,358 people. But it gets worse. The request is for a “supplemental appropriation.” In budget lingo, that typically means it’s for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. If these funds don’t cover a full year, either the cost per person is much higher or the number of people is much higher.

If the daily cost per person is less than $250, then the small city of illegal aliens we’re supporting will be larger than 29,358.

Although Obama asks for lots of money to take care of people permanently, he gives zero details about a timeframe for deporting or repatriating any of the persons involved.

The $250 a day figure compares with the $667 one-way cost of an airline ticket from McAllen, Texas, to Guatemala City, Guatemala, according to both Orbitz and Priceline. The combined airfare for 29,358 passengers would be $19.6 million. That is one-half of 1 percent of President Obama’s overall $3.8 billion request. Volume discounts and government rates would yield even lower fares. But even without discounts, sending everyone home right away saves taxpayers 99.5 percent!

It’s also closer to fly them from McAllen to Guatemala City than to Murietta, California. Only 1,297 miles compared to 1,549 miles. And no protesters.

But what about the red-tape processing that Obama says gets in ther way? We know the president skirts inconvenient laws when he wants to do so. And although there is some red tape for the minors, there is no federal law that requires officials to drag their feet on deporting the thousands of adults newly arrived from Central America. And no red tape on the accompanied minors. All of them can be placed on planes pronto, arriving home far more quickly than it took them to journey to Texas. And arriving there more quickly than flying to California.

Regarding the unaccompanied juveniles, officials such as Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson don’t seem to have read the law. Johnson told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the top priority is “doing right by the children.” Actually, the law states the top priority is to repatriate those children to their country of origin.

Before the lanague of that controversial 2008 statute outlines the red-tape processing, it explicitly states the goal of that process, namely that “the Secretary of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, shall develop policies and procedures to ensure that unaccompanied alien children in the United States are safely repatriated to their country of nationality or of last habitual residence.”

That bears repeating: The statute says the goal is that the unaccompanied alien children “are safely repatriated to their country of nationality or of last habitual residence.”

Interestingly, that law foresees a problem if minors are released in the U.S. to custody of fellow illegal aliens. The statute requires officials to make sure that a potential custodian is someone who is trained to recognize his “responsibility to attempt to ensure the child’s appearance at all immigration proceedings.” Obviously, that disqualifies anyone who himself is in the country illegally.

We don’t have to borrow and spend another $3.8 billion to fix the problems created by President Obama’s irresponsible promotion of amnesty. It’s far cheaper to follow the law and to send people home. That also is the best way to discourage other people from following in their footsteps.