U.S. Government Spent $18 Billion in Immigration Enforcement

In the last fiscal year, the United States government spent roughly $18 billion on immigration enforcement, which is more than any other criminal federal law enforcement in the United States, according to a recent Migration Policy Institute report. The nonpartisan Washington, D.C.-based think tank released the extensive report on the history of immigration in the United States and the intense transformation it has gone through since the 1990s.

The report, entitled “Immigration Enforcement in the United States: The Rise of a Formidable Machinery” showed that the government’s funding of agencies such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and US-VISIT – a system that tracks the entry and exit of visitors to the U.S – was roughly $3.6 billion  more than the combined budgets of other major criminal enforcement agencies in the 2012 fiscal year. These include the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Secret Service, U.S. Marshals Service and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). This shows that, dollar-for-dollar, immigration is considered to be one of the government’s top priorities.

“Enforcement alone – no matter how well administered – is an insufficient answer to the broad challenges that illegal and legal immigration pose for America’s future,” Doris Meissner, director of the Migration Policy Institute’s U.S. immigration policy program, wrote in an article for The Washington Post. “Changes must also be made to better align immigration policy with the nation’s economic and labor market requirements and with future growth and well-being.”

Net migration from Mexico has gone down to zero following the housing market crash, which gave many immigrants construction jobs. Experts believe that this will cause migration patterns to reverse, meaning more Mexican immigrants will leave the United States than migrate  here.