US spends vast amounts enforcing immigration

More is spent on immigration control than on all other federal law enforcement combined

By Natasha Lennard
January 9, 2013 1:54AM (UTC)
main article image
(Constantine Pankin/Shutterstock)

Monitoring foreigners entering the U.S. and detaining and deporting illegal immigrants is “the federal government’s highest criminal law enforcement priority” according to a new report from the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute.

The U.S. spent more on immigration enforcement than any other federal law enforcement activity combined. The Obama administration spent nearly $18 billion on immigration control last year. More than half of all federal prosecutions now involve immigration-related crimes -- as  the New York Times noted, the Department of Homeland Security "referred more cases to the courts for prosecution than all of the Justice Department’s law enforcement agencies combined, including the F.B.I., the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Total spending on those agencies was $14 billion, official figures show."


The report's findings undermine the current of political opinion positing vast gaps in immigration control and migrants flowing without obstacle across the border. As the Times noted, "the report responds to lawmakers, mainly Republicans, who have argued that federal authorities must do much more to strengthen enforcement before Congress can consider any legalization for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country." In fact, President Obama oversaw the highest number of deportations during his first term than any other president in history. ICE announced it had deported 410,000 foreigners in 2012 alone.


Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

MORE FROM Natasha LennardFOLLOW natashalennardLIKE Natasha Lennard

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Department Of Homeland Security Ice Illiegal Immigrants Immigration Immigration Reform