Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Border Security Dilemma - how do we know we are there?

In early January, the Migration Policy Institute released a report titled "U.S. Spends More on Immigration Enforcement than on FBI, DEA, Secret Service & All Other Federal Criminal Law Enforcement Agencies Combined" (link to press release).  The report had many key findings, including:
  • More than 4 million non-citizens, primarily unauthorized immigrants, have been deported from the United States since 1990, with removals rising from 30,039 in FY 1990 to 391,953 in FY 2011.
  • Fewer than half of the non-citizens deported from the United States are removed pursuant to a formal hearing before an immigration judge, with the majority removed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) via its administrative authority.
  • The nearly 430,000 non-citizens detained in the immigration detention system in FY 2011 exceeded the number serving sentences in federal Bureau of Prisons facilities for all other federal crimes.
  • Immigration enforcement spending has totaled nearly $187 billion in the 26 years since IRCA ($219 billion in 2012 dollars).
  • Spending on CBP, ICE and DHS’s primary immigration enforcement technology initiative, the US Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program, reached $17.9 billion in FY 2012. In comparison, total spending for all other federal criminal law enforcement agencies (the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals Service and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) stood at $14.4 billion in FY 2012.
News reports cited the controversial nature of the report:

The report generated a swift response from the Center for Immigration Studies:

Various pro- and anti-immigration organizations went back and forth on the issue, but it is clear that the issue of border enforcement will be a key sticking point as Congress goes into negotiations on comprehensive immigration reform, as noted in this article from the Wall Street Journal:

However, it is undeniable that deportations have been at their highest level ever, as noted in this article in the Huffington Post which looks at a report that says that deportations will rise to 2 million by 2014
This gives the Obama administration facts on the ground to show that border security has already been a high priority...the questions is, what more will it take?

One more article for good measure on the Senate's deliberations: "The early debate over immigration reform has yielded two thorny questions: What metrics will be used to determine whether the goals for border security and other safeguards against illegal immigration have been met? Who will decide whether the metrics have been achieved?"

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