Photo: Immigration enforcement
The U.S. government in 2012 spent about $18 billion on immigration enforcement, 24 percent more than the combined budgets of all other federal law enforcement agencies, according to a report from the Migration Policy Institute.
Specifically, those funds were allocated to the offices of Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement and to the collection of fingerprints and other biometric data from foreign visitors.
The government spent around $14.4 billion to fund the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals Service and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the report says.
Since 1986, Washington has spent some $186.8 billion on police measures against illegal immigration, according to the MPI document.
The increase in resources for immigration enforcement has included “drastic increases” for the Border Patrol, which has doubled the number of its agents over the past seven years to 21,370.
More than four million foreigners have been deported since 1990, increasing from slightly more than 30,000 in that year to almost 400,000 in 2011, the report adds.
The study emphasized a recent decline in arrests in the border zone, reflecting the weakening of the U.S. economy, the strengthening of border monitoring and changes in the factors fostering emigration from Mexico.
Thus, in fiscal year 2011 U.S. authorities detained 340,252 people, one fifth the number intercepted in 2000 and the lowest figure since 1970, the analysis says.
The MPI report was released as the administration of Barack Obama and Congress are preparing to resume the debate on possible immigration reform that will help to regularize the status of the 11 million undocumented foreigners living in this country.
The majority of Republican lawmakers, however, continue to oppose measures that, in their judgment, “reward” those who violate the laws by illegally entering the country.