The U.S. Now Spends More on Immigration Than the Rest of Federal Law Enforcement Combined

More

So what would you guess is the main job of federal law enforcement in 2013? Breaking up drug rings? Patrolling white collar crime? 

Try: coping with illegal immigration. 

The Migration Policy Institute is out with a new report adding up what the United States has spent trying trying to seal off the border and ferret out undocumented individuals since 1986, when President Regan signed his landmark immigration reform bill. The big, headline-grabbing stat is that we now spend roughly $18 billion annually on immigration control, more than the rest of our major federal law enforcement agencies combined. Part of that is due to the immense increase in border patrol agents -- they've doubled in the last seven years -- who also play a key role intercepting drug shipments. Still, more than half of all federal prosecutions now involve immigration-related crimes -- no great surprise, given where we're putting our resources. 

Here's what the comparison between our immigration spending and the rest of the federal law enforcement budget circa 1986. 

Immigration_Policy_Immig_v_Everything_1986_Edited.png

Now here it is today. 

Immigration_Policy_Immig_v_Everything_2012_edited.png

And finally, here's the growth of our immigration spending over time. In total, we've shelled out $219 billion in today's dollars in the last 27 years. 

Migration_Policy_Spending_86_12.PNG


Jump to comments
Presented by

Jordan Weissmann is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Death-Defying Origins of Bungee Jumping

"We had this old potato sack and I filled it up with rocks and dropped it over the side. It just hit the water, split, dropping all the stones. And that was our test."


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Is Trading Stocks for Suckers?

If you think you’re smarter than the stock market, you’re probably either cheating or wrong

Video

I Spent Half My Life Making a Video Game

How a childhood hobby became a labor of love

Video

The Roughest, Toughest Race in the World

"Sixty hours. No sleep. Constant climbing and descending. You're out there by yourself. All day and night."

Video

The Gem of the Pacific Northwest

A short film explores the relationship between the Oregon coast and the people who call it home.

Video

Single-Tasking Is the New Multitasking

Trying to do too many internet things at once makes it hard to get anything done at all.

 

Video

New Zealand in HD

The country's diverse landscapes, seen in dreamy time-lapse footage

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In