As an American citizen and as a new Maine transplant, I want to have a discussion. I want to share facts and converse. In the day and age of a surplus of information at the touch of one’s finger, misinformation is abundant. Misinformation is dangerous, and it is the enemy of us all as informed voters.

Between fiscal year 2015 and fiscal year 2019 (from Oct. 1, 2014-Sept. 30, 2015 to Oct. 1, 2018-Sept. 30, 2019), detention rates for illegal re-entry of people who were undocumented and have no criminal record increased by 40 percent. In 2019, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, proposed a revision to Kate’s Law that would have changed the current two-year maximum sentence for the re-entry of an undocumented immigrant into the United States to a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for the same offense.

Estimates of the average daily cost to detain inmates in federally funded Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities range from $134 (ICE’s estimate) to almost $300. The average time that an adult spends in ICE custody is 55 days. If we scrape the bottom of the barrel, expend the least amount of resources necessary and use that low-end number, that total comes to $7,370 for 55 days for housing an undocumented immigrant.

Over 11,000 immigrant detainees are currently being held in federally funded ICE detainment facilities throughout the country. We do not know how many of these 11,000 humans will be held under the auspices of Kate’s Law when or if it is finally passed. At $134 a day, if we assume that all of these people are concurrently incarcerated for 55 days – which is a gross underestimate – our taxes contribute to the lowest median of $81 million annually.

That is the cost of detaining a living, breathing human for existing in our country without the status that many of us were afforded simply by being birthed in the United States. We are all contributing to the delegitimization and the incarceration of a group of people that is mostly made of law-abiding, nonviolent human beings for not having liberties that many of us were granted indefinitely upon our births.

To my fellow citizens who hold fast and support Donald Trump through thick and thin: If you’ve gotten this far and have been able to bear the discomfort of acknowledging the policies avidly encouraged by our president, thank you for taking the time out of your day to read what I have to say.

Perhaps it is easier to overlook children being kept in cages; perhaps we view it as necessary collateral for these children and their families for breaking immigration laws, even if they’re simply trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. I personally take issue with this, but I understand the thought process.

If it does not make us cringe that people are held, sometimes indefinitely, in grueling conditions that we would never wish upon our fellow citizens, will expenditures of our money on these facilities do so? We must ask ourselves: Can we stomach the prospect of these prisoners being used as free labor and having their imprisonment be a source of profit for federal and private entities? Can we look past the obtuse spending of our hard-earned money on holding those whom our nation’s collective consciousness has deemed undesirable of living here? How much can we as a nation collectively ignore and vote to support? Are we a country that prioritizes oppressing others who yearn for a better life over fighting fiscal inefficiency, or are we a people that believe in equal opportunity to all those who find themselves upon the shores of our nation? Where do we draw the line? Where do you draw the line?

When it comes time to vote for your desired candidate, please remember that your decision affects not only you. It affects the weary, the weak, the poor and the disenfranchised. It affects my family, your family and the families of those who our current president deems undeserving of a better life.

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