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Report: Billions Spent on US Immigration Enforcement Have Impact

Report: Billions Spent on US Immigration Enforcement Have Impacti
January 15, 2013 10:08 PM
A two-decade shift in funding has put more staff, equipment and screening capabilities to work protecting U.S. borders. And a recent report by the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute says funding last year for immigration enforcement agencies totaled close to $18 billion, more than $3 billion higher than the combined budgets of the country's other principal law enforcement agencies. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports from Washington.
Like so many people in the United States, Claudia Hernandez wakes up every day, goes to work and comes home to take care of her children.

But Hernandez, who is not a U.S. citizen, said "I came when I was 13 years old, to California.  I was, of course, illegal. I was living in California for about 20 years and then I came to Maryland 10 years ago."

And after decades living and working in the U.S., the law finally caught up with her.  She was facing deportation.

"If I was going to be deported, then who was going to take care of my kids?  Who was going to see that my daughter goes to school every day, that she's healthy, that she's fine, that she eats," said Hernandez.  "Where is she going to go to sleep?"

A two-decade shift in funding has put more staff, equipment and screening capabilities to work protecting U.S. borders. And a recent report by the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute says funding last year for immigration enforcement agencies totaled close to $18 billion, more than $3 billion higher than the combined budgets of the country's other principal law enforcement agencies. 

With more money being spent on enforcement, deportations have more than doubled over the past decade, according to the Immigration Policy Center, a non-partisan research group.

Groups that help immigrants adjust in the U.S. say there's more fallout.

"The enforcement factor does play a role and what it more plays a role into is migrants using smugglers and going into organized crime to seek assistance to cross the border," said Jaime Farrant, executive director of Ayuda, which provides legal services to immigrants.
Along the border with Mexico, recent violence has sparked renewed concern.

Volunteers from Jim Gilchrist's Minuteman Project used to help patrol the border until it became too dangerous.  Gilchrist says the $18 billion spent last year on enforcement is not nearly enough.

"You're still seeing a rampant intrusion of vehicles bringing drugs or human cargo in or foot traffic bringing drugs and human cargo in," he said.

There's no shortage of emotion when it comes to immigration and previous efforts at reform have stalled.  But there seems to be a growing consensus in Congress that it may be time to try again.

George Mason University Professor David Hart hopes that's the case. "We also need to talk about the numbers of people who come to the country, what kinds of people we want immigrating to the country, and we haven't really been able to have those discussions because we've been hung up on the border," he said.

As for Claudia Hernandez, she considers herself lucky. She fought deportation and won and is now a legal immigrant and she's dreaming of one day becoming a U.S. citizen.

"Of course, I've been here more than half of my life, and I respect the United States," she said. "This is my country."

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

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Comment Sorting
by: David Simcox from: U.S.A.
January 17, 2013 2:25 PM
It is troubling that VOA, a taxpayer funded US agency, accepts without question the finding of a private thinktank that the immigration enforcement budget is greater than the combined budgets of "all" federal law enforcement agencies. At least two major things wrong with this study are 1) it counts the customs service budget within Homeland security as an "immigrationlaw enforcement" function (that's $4.4 billion right there); 2) it fails to count the budgets of a number of important federal law enforcement agencies in making its comparison (The Coast guard's job is to enforce all federal laws on the sea -- including criminal laws)spending. It's budget alone is more than $10 billion).

throughout its history VOA, catering to its overseas audience, has subtly encouraged immigration to the U.S., while seeming defensive or even critical (as in this case) about the fact that the U.S. does have valid immigration laws and policies that involve such things as limits and deportations -- just like most other countries. In this case you should have done some research an presented the claim in the broader perspective you owe your overseas listeners.

by: Allen Bunch
January 16, 2013 12:16 PM
Obama is slowly but surely fixing the immigration problem. The more we inflate the work force, the lower wages are driven. Soon, wages will be low enough that immigration will no longer be a problem.

by: Dave Francis
January 15, 2013 9:54 PM

Legal and Illegal Immigration Pushes Welfare Spending Over $1 Trillion

More than a quarter of the $1 trillion spent on welfare in the United States goes directly to the households of immigrants, illegal parents and their children. And two out of three jobs created in the last four years went to legal immigrants and illegal aliens. These jobs would lift Americans out of hardship, and reduce entitlement spending still more. Instead, just last month, the unemployment rate among black Americans rose to 14 percent.

The problem isn't only an illegal alien issue; most legal immigrants use at least one welfare program. The problem is simply too much immigration. In fact, we are told many illegal migrants and immigrants have gone home since the start of the recession, but yet the number of legal immigrants in America continues to explode at over a million annually.

Some immigration makes good judgment, included the abbreviated STEM variety of scientific professionals, technical workers, engineers and mathematicians’ But such gigantic levels of legal and illegal immigration are keeping Americans trapped in poverty, but with the expansion of children slipping into America in deliberately gain citizenship by their parents bringing them here. This explosion of people is causing almost irreversible issues with the U.S. federal deficit, not to mention the busting with all 50 state budgets! Insist Senators and House Republicans get the message that we cannot afford to subsidize the financial problems of the world’s population anymore. Tell them to stop importing poverty. Tell them to halt it at the border and at the airline terminals. Do what other countries do and actually track foreign nationals, who overstay their visitor visas and cannot be that complicated.

America spends more than a trillion dollars on programs to help our own unemployed and disadvantaged. So why are we importing millions of immigrants to compete for jobs and resources with them? Why is it not a Felony to enter this sovereign nation without a proper visa?

Congress should help the jobless and destitute Americans in getting decent-paying employment and not importing millions of new workers to take entry-level jobs. In February 24, 1995 the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, chaired by civil rights activist Barbara Jordan, called for cutting annual legal immigration in half. This would still be double the historical average, and allow for plenty of reasonable immigration and not a over populated country of desperate, poor people. The primary reason for the cutting immigration that the commission cited was that every time immigration levels have been high -- and they are higher in the past decade than every -- wages fell and poverty rose. With so many millions of unemployed Americans and the nation in such dire fiscal crises, the commission's findings are even more important now than ever.

As Congress considers many "immigration reform" proposals, keep in mind that the reforms we need are those that result in more job openings, less poverty, and lower spending. The American citizenry must demand “THE LEGAL WORKFORCE ACT” to remove illegal aliens from the workplace using E-Verify. Also needed is the BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP BILL, to end given immediate citizenship to smuggled children into the United States as it is the most expensive negative payout. This amendment in the 14TH Amendment was a legal advantage to freed slaves and their future offspring, not for every smuggled child into this country.

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