The United States spends more money on immigration enforcement -- nearly $18 billion in the 2012 fiscal year -- than on its other law enforcement agencies combined, according to a report released Monday from the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute.
That spending went to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection and US-Visit, a program that helps states and localities identify undocumented immigrants.
By contrast, the U.S. spent $14.4 billion -- combined -- on its other prime law enforcement agencies: the FBI, Secret Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshal Service and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
There's a reason for the high cost. The Migration Policy Institute found that ICE and CBP also refer more cases to prosecution than those other agencies combined, and the immigration agencies also held more individuals in fiscal year 2011 than the federal Bureau of Prisons.
The odds are pretty good that those costs will stay high for a while with or without immigration reform. Why? Immigration reform will include major new enforcement initiatives as part of the overall package. And without reform, we'll see a continuation of the status quo reported by MPI.
Greg Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.