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Immigration enforcement and the threat of deportation

There are many positive trends in immigration law. The Deferred Action program has given hope to many young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children but lacked legal status. And studies have shown the dynamic role that immigrants of all types play in driving economic growth. We have explored those themes consistently in this blog.

But there are also cautionary factors as well that warn of ongoing immigration enforcement efforts. For many immigrants, the threat of deportation is a constant reality. The Deferred Action program, as important as it is, has not changed that fundamental reality.

One indicator of how serious the federal government still takes immigration enforcement is the amount of money spent on it. This week, a report from a nonpartisan research group called attention to the rapid growth in enforcement spending in the last 25 years.

The Migration Policy Institute reported that the federal government spent $18 billion last year on immigration enforcement. Obviously, that is a very large amount of money in absolute terms, especially at a time when the U.S. is struggling so mightily with its budget deficit.

But $18 billion is also an awful lot in comparative terms. It is more than is spent collectively on all other major federal law enforcement agencies combined. These agencies include such key ones as the FBI, the Secret Service, the U.S. Marshall’s Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

As important as these agencies are, however, immigration enforcement efforts get more funding. There are two main agencies. One is U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The other is U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Significant funding also goes to
US-VISIT, which is an initiative involving fingerprinting and photography at ports of entry to the U.S.

The number of deportations reflects the high level of funding. In 1990, the number of annual deportations stood at 30,000. By 2011, it had grown to more than 10 times that number to nearly 400,000.

Source: “Report: Immigration leads federal law enforcement spending,” The Washington Post,” Tara Bahrampour, 1-7-13

Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post in Minnesota. To learn more about our practice, please visit our deportation defense page.

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