Before finding a way to address the 11 million undocumented people in the U.S. and considering granting a path to citizenship, many in congress have advocated for “enforcement first” before reform. A new report released yesterday should serve as proof that the federal government has already allocated vast resources to strengthen immigration enforcement.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, in 2012, the Obama Administration spent $18 billion on immigration enforcement. More money was spent on immigration enforcement than on all other major federal law enforcement agencies.
This report confirms that deporting undocumented immigrants and immigration control are now the government’s highest criminal law enforcement priorities.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, USCIS, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, have referred more cases to the courts than agencies like the F.B.I., the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The combined total spending from those agencies was $14 billion.
The ICE budget has risen by 87 percent since 2005. Last month, the agency announced that 410,000 immigrants had been deported in 2012. Obama holds the record for the highest number of deportations in his first term.
This year’s Congress has the most Latino members Congress has ever had. Perhaps that and this report will influence the passing of immigration reform. The last time Congress did an immigration law overhaul was in 1986.
President Obama has vowed to get it done in 2013.