If there is one facet of immigration reform that has not been discussed in earnest, it is the costs associated with enforcing immigration laws. Given the spending cuts that will inevitably have to come about (even though Congress recently avoided the fiscal cliff) it is likely that spending changes will be reflected as the Obama Administration continues to make changes regarding immigration.
A recent report by the Migration Policy Institute underscores the need for cost-saving measures. It detailed how the federal government spends more on immigration enforcement than the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)...combined.
At $18 billion spent, the costs associated with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and US-VISIT were 24 percent more than the other federal law enforcement agencies compared.
The report also identified several significant trends between 1990 and 2011. Deportations increased from 30,000 in 1990 to just over 400,000 in 2011, with nearly 430,000 people being detained for suspected immigration law violations each year. This number is more than the federal prison population. Further, more than 4 million people have been deported since 1990.
We find the report significant as the federal government moves to change the way it handles how non-violent, undocumented immigrants charged with drunk driving and low-level drug charges. Essentially, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will not require local police and sheriff's departments to hold suspected illegals charged with misdemeanors.
Source: WashingtonPost.com, Immigration leads federal law enforcement spending, January 7, 2013