The cost of housing Cuban asylum applicants in private housing has been comparable to the cost of holding migrants in detention at a Prison Service facility, according to records released by Customs and Border Control through a Freedom of Information request.
Cuban migrants were first transferred to rental properties in July 2018, following a series of hunger strikes and an announcement by the Department of Immigration that it would be “reviewing alternatives” to migrant detention.
Conditions of release included respecting curfew hours, wearing an ankle monitor, abstaining from employment, and regular check- ins with immigration officials. Migrants who have not adhered to those conditions have been returned to detention for periods of time.
From January through July 2019, government spent $925,420.10 on housing and other expenses related to migrant care. A reported $458,922.49 of that seven-month cost remains outstanding and has not yet been paid to vendors.
The 2019 cost comes just short of the $949,440.43 spent from January through July 2018, when migrants remained under the watch of the Prison Service at the Immigration Detention Centre at Fairbanks.
Overall in 2018, government reported spending $1,503,880.17 on migrant care.
The cost of food for migrants in detention was not included in the 2018 numbers reported by Customs and Border Control.
For the month of December, however, $2,675 was listed for Foster’s Food Fair vouchers distributed to migrants on supervised release. Jacques Scott liquor store received $690 for tobacco in February 2018.
The 2019 costs included $16,220 in Foster’s vouchers.
With far fewer migrants remaining in detention, security costs for the first seven months of 2019 came in at almost $100,000 less than for the same timeframe in 2018.
Through July 2019, security costs totalled $812,209.13. For the same period in 2018, those costs were reported as $904,950.79.
Security vendors listed for 2019 are listed as The Security Centre, Prison and Public Safety Communications.
Overall security costs in 2018 totalled $1,416,058.49. Of those costs from 2018, $200,690 is still owed to the Prison Service.
Security vendors listed for 2018 were listed as The Security Centre, Prison and Police Welfare Fund.
It is unclear if the 2019 security costs overlap with the men’s prison wing, the Enhanced Reintegration Unit, that was opened at the Fairbanks detention centre in February.
The 2018 migrant data shows just one month with spending on rental agreements for migrants – $1,500 in November 2018. Migrants were first released to rental housing in July 2018, however.
For the first seven months of 2019, government has spent $63,822 on rental agreements.
It is not clear how many Cuban asylum applicants are housed in the commu- nity but data from Cus- toms and Border Control list 10 vendors under its rental agreements.
Through July, medical costs for migrant care this year have reached $12,886.68. Of those costs, $6,000 is outstanding to the Health Service Authority and $400 is outstanding to Cayman NeuroSurgeons International Group.
The 2019 cost is just above the medical spending for the same timeframe in 2018, $11,696.19.
The total medical expenses for 2018 were $36,485.37.