America has spent more money on immigration enforcement within the last fiscal year than on the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Secret service put together. A report released by the Migration Policy Institute on Monday stated that about $18 billion has been spent on programs run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, The U.S. Visit program, and Customs and Border Protection that includes border patrol. Despite this large amount, lawmakers continue to claim that the border is still not safe and U.S. immigration is far from a functional system.
Over $187 billion has been spent on immigration enforcement since President Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986. This law legalized the 3 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. “Today, immigration enforcement can be seen as the federal government’s highest criminal law enforcement priority, judged on the basis of budget allocations, enforcement actions and case volumes.” In fact, the majority of cases in the Justice Department are federal immigration-related criminal prosecutions. Some lawmakers are asking for more lenient immigration policies as the high allotment of money is making little difference in the immigration problem.
“Congress has to enact broad legislation that combines targeted enforcement with a road to citizenship for those here without papers and a flexible and functional legal immigration system,” America’s Voice Frank Sharry said to Fox News Latino. “It’s time to stop ripping families apart and wasting taxpayer dollars and time to pass comprehensive immigration reform.” Some say this report is a criticism of the Obama Administration and their strong crackdown on immigration, but others are calling for a different approach. Regardless of the money spent, the border is not secure, American workers have no job security, and undocumented workers are taken advantage of. The Obama administration has made several changes to the immigration system including launching a program allowing some young undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation and working legally in the country. His administration has also refocused enforcement efforts to target those that pose as a security threat.
With budgets quickly dwindling and various civil rights violations occurring, legislators are asking for a different type of enforcement. Jessica Karp, an attorney with National Day Laborer Organizing Network says, “The U.S. 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.”
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