/ Modified jan 8, 2013 11:40 a.m.

Border Security Tops Law Enforcement Spending

U.S. spent $18B in 2011-12 on immigration, port security, report says

Immigration enforcement has ballooned into the biggest source of spending in federal law enforcement, a new report says.

Last fiscal year, the United States spent $18 billion on immigration and port security. That was more than drug enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI combined.

In fact, there are more people who have been jailed on immigration charges than all other federal crimes put together.

Those are the findings in the report released Monday by the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.

"It’s frequently said that there isn’t any consensus in the immigration debate," said Doris Meissner, director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Program and co-author of the report for the Migration Policy Institute, a think tank. "In fact there is and has been consensus, and these numbers and this record I think show that."

The numbers show political affiliation doesn’t matter when it comes to spending on immigration policy. Both parties are willing to spend the money on enforcement first.

Adjusting for inflation, the United States spent a little more than $1 billion in 1986, the year of the last significant immigration reform, the Immigration Reform and Control Act. Since then, nearly $200 billion has been spent on border security, according to the report.

The report concludes that immigration enforcement has been successful. The question, Meissner asked, is will the country continue to think the cost is worth it?

"Is this an investment that is paying off? Those kinds of questions I hope, will be asked based on the information that we've provided," she said.

By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
Arizona Public Media broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents. Arizona Public Media and AZPM are registered trademarks of the Arizona Board of Regents.
The University of Arizona