The United States government devotes more than $10 billion annually to keep undocumented immigrants out. As the number of people who cross the border successfully continues to rise, some people believe that the U.S. government is not expending nearly enough effort to secure its border. Immigration is among the most controversial and complex policy debates in the U.S. today.
Securing the Border: Recent U.S. Border Patrol Policies:
- The U.S. Border Patrol expanded significantly during the Clinton administration with “Operation Gatekeeper.” The initiative was announced in 1994 as a way of “restoring the integrity” of the border, protecting against the entry of both immigrants and narcotics. By 1997 the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s (INS) budget reached $800 million, double its pre-Gatekeeper size. This included a doubling in the number of Border Patrol agents. The Clinton Administration also constructed a 14-ft. high fence extending over a 40-mile section of the border to deter the flow of undocumented immigrants.
- In March 2003 the INS became a part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and border patrol and immigration enforcement came under DHS jurisdiction.
- During the post-9/11 Bush Administration, funding for border security and immigration enforcement shot up 159%, from $4.8 billion in 2001 to $12.3 billion in 2008.
- Between 2001 and 2008, the size of the U.S. Border Patrol more than doubled, from approximately 9,000 patrol agents to over 18,000.
- In addition to increasing the number of border guards, in 2005 the U.S. Congress authorized funding of $2.7 billion to build a southwest border fence designed to “slow, delay, and be an obstacle to illegal cross border activity”. As of December 19th, 2008 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had completed 553 miles of fence along the Southwest border. Check for updates on the Department of Homeland Security’s “Southwest Border Fence” webpage here. An up to date satellite image of the border fence construction is also available, viewable under the ‘fencing construction status’ hyperlink.
Human rights advocates describe the new border barriers, fortified checkpoints, high-tech forms of surveillance, and thousands of additional Border Patrol agents stationed along the southwest border as “militarization” of the U.S./Mexico border. These policies have ultimately failed to decrease the number of unauthorized migrants crossing into the United States.
- Information compiled from: