The federal government spends more on immigration enforcement than it does on the FBI, DEA, Secret Service, US Marshalls, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives combined, a new Migration Policy Institute (MPI) report released today finds. 

The report also found that more people are detained each year in immigration detention facilities than are serving sentences in federal prisons.

Among the report’s other key findings:

  • More than 4 million non-citizens, primarily unauthorized

    immigrants, have been deported from the United States since 1990, with

    removals rising from 30,039 in FY 1990 to 391,953 in FY 2011.

  • Fewer than half of the non-citizens deported from the United

    States are removed pursuant to a formal hearing before an immigration

    judge, with the majority removed by the Department of Homeland Security

    (DHS) via its administrative authority.

  • The nearly 430,000 non-citizens detained in the immigration

    detention system in FY 2011 exceeded the number serving sentences in

    federal Bureau of Prisons facilities for all other federal crimes.

  • Immigration enforcement spending has totaled nearly $187 billion in the 26 years since IRCA ($219 billion in 2012 dollars).
  • Spending on CBP, ICE and DHS’s primary immigration enforcement

    technology initiative, the US Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator

    Technology (US-VISIT) program, reached $17.9 billion in FY 2012. In

    comparison, total spending for all other federal criminal law

    enforcement agencies (the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Secret

    Service, U.S. Marshals Service and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms

    and Explosives) stood at $14.4 billion in FY 2012. 

“There has been an historic transformation of immigration enforcement into a highly resourced, robust infrastructure,” said Muzaffar Chishti, one of the report’s co-authors. “This modern-day system extends well beyond U.S. borders to screen visitors against multiple intelligence and law enforcement databases before they arrive and also reaches into local communities across the country via partnerships with state and local law enforcement, information sharing and other initiatives.”

In response, National Day Laborer Organizing Network attorney Jessica Karp made the following statement:

“With shrinking budgets and increasingly rampant civil rights

violations in the name of ‘immigration enforcement’, today’s study is a

wake up call to our legislators. That the US spent almost $18 billion

last year to detain immigrants and separate families for violating

immigration laws that are widely recognized as outdated and impractical

shows just how far anti-immigrant fervor has gone in spawning backwards

priorities in Congress. 2013 should be the year that the administration

invests in public safety and family unity by disinvesting from dead-end

programs like Secure Communities.”

The full report can be downloaded by visiting MigrationPolicy.org. [PDF]