Border Security Tops All Law Enforcement Spending
January 07, 2013

A report released Monday shows immigration enforcement has ballooned into the biggest source of spending in federal law enforcement. 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 by the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.

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

Democrat or Republican, the numbers show political affiliation doesn’t matter. When it comes to 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, 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.