Since the creation of the room of Homeland security (DHS) in 2003, the federal government has spent an approximated $333 billion on the agencies that bring out immigration enforcement. As Congress renews its focus on immigration enforcement and also border security under the Biden administration, that is important to review exactly how much money has currently been spent on this initiatives and what outcomes have been produced.

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Immigration enforcement spending largely falls into two worry areas: border security and also interior enforcement. Border spending includes staffing and also resources required for U.S. Customs and also Border defense (CBP), an agency of DHS working at and between United says ports that entry. Internal enforcement is primarily concentrated on staffing and resources for U.S. Immigration and also Customs Enforcement (ICE), also part of DHS, to apprehend noncitizens in the interior of the country, detain those experience removal proceedings, and deport those ordered removed.

Currently, the number of border and interior enforcement policemans stands at much more than 50,000, with ICE and also CBP employing end 84,000 civilization in total. The number of U.S. Border Patrol agents nearly doubled from fiscal Year (FY) 2003 to FY 2019. Additionally, the variety of ICE agents specialized to its office that Enforcement and Removal to work (ERO) nearly tripled from FY 2003 to FY 2019. In FY 2019, DHS employed more than 8,200 ERO officers.

In February 2019, after the longest federal government shutdown in history, 35 days, Congress got to a attend to the President, giving $1.375 billion for 55 mile of fencing along the Rio Grande Valley. The president expressed his dissatisfaction with this offer, and shortly after ~ signing the bill, claimed a national emergency to money his border wall through various other means. In addition to the $1.375 billion that has currently been allocated for fencing, that announced his intent to pull $600 million native the Treasury Department’s medicine Forfeiture Fund, $2.5 billion from the department of Defense’s medicine Interdiction program, and also 3.6 billion from the department of Defense’s military construction account. Secondary $1.5 billion in department of Defense funds were moved in may 2019.

What has actually this safety bought? The united States currently has approximately 700 mile of fencing along the southern border, record levels of staff for ICE and also CBP, and also a fleet of drones¾among other resources. Some of these resources have been spent on ill-conceived projects, such as the $1 billion attempt to construct a “virtual fence” along the Southwest border, a task initiated in 2005 that was later on scrapped because that being ineffective and also too costly. CBP announced a similar project in July 2020 to download a complete of 200 “Autonomous surveillance Towers” along remote locations of the southerly border at a reported cost of several hundred million dollars.

Even with document level spending on enforcement, enforcement alone is not sufficient to address the challenges of undocumented migration. It likewise has significant unintended consequences; follow to U.S. Border Patrol statistics, the Southwest border witnesses close come one death per day. Every one of these initiatives that have accumulated in the name of security, however, do not necessarily measure up border protection properly, or make the border an ext secure. That is past time for the United states to turn away native costly and haphazard efforts to secure the border and also instead emphasis on reining in the expenses of border enforcement.

The cost of immigrant Enforcement and Border security in Dollars

The immigration enforcement spending plan has enhanced massively because the beforehand 1990s, however many members the Congress and also the president proceed to speak to for much more taxpayer dollars come be invested on immigration enforcement.

Figure 1: U.S. Border Patrol Budget, FY 1990-2021


Sources: view endnote 14.

number 2: CBP & ICE annual Budgets, FY 2003-2021


Source: congressional budgets, gross budget authority as provided in Conference Reports, FY 2003-2021.

Increases in immigration Enforcement and also Border defense Personnel

Since 1993, the variety of U.S. Border Patrol agents has actually skyrocketed from 4,139 agents to a congressionally authorized 23,645 agents in FY 2018, although as result of hiring problems Border Patrol only had 19,648 agents in FY 2019. (Figure 3). That those agents, 16,731 room deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border, an ext than four times the 3,555 agents deployed come the U.S.-Mexico border in FY 1992. An additional 2,073 agents room deployed come the U.S.-Canada border, much more than 7 times the quantity deployed in FY 1992. A more 255 agents are deployed come the coastal Border Sectors.

Figure 3: CBP Officers, Border Patrol Agents, and also ICE Agents, FY 2003-2019


Sources: check out endnotes 17, 18, and also 19.

*Includes only ERO Officers.

Previous Benchmarks have actually Been Met, yet Enforcement funding Continues come Grow

The federal government has currently met the border protection benchmarks laid down in earlier Senate immigrant reform bills.

The requirements in those Senate receipt for much more border enforcement personnel, border fencing, monitoring technology, unmanned aerial vehicles, and also detention beds have additionally been fulfilled and in countless ways surpassed. Ice detention bed quotas rose from the normal 34,000 bed to 40,520 for 2018¾an all-time high. Regardless of Congress only appropriating sufficient money for 40,520 beds throughout the year, in FY 2019 ICE’s use of budgetary mechanisms to transition money native other places to your detention account led to ICE breaking documents by detaining much more than 55,000 people.

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Border protection depends on the smart and efficient usage of accessible resources. At the same, border enforcement cannot and should not be excellent in isolation. Instead, it have to be examined in the larger context of reforms essential for the whole immigration system.