According to a report published by the Migration Policy Institute on January 7, 2013 the federal spending on immigration enforcement was nearly $18 billion, more than all other major federal law enforcement agencies combined. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency responsible for interior enforcement functions including investigations and the detention and removal of unauthorized immigrants, saw its number of detainees rise to 429,247 in 2011 while the number of deportations reached 410,000 in 2012. ICE’s budget has also seen an 87 percent increase since 2005. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which carries out border enforcement at and between legal ports of entry, saw its budget rise 85 percent in the same period.
In its report, the Migration Policy Institute writes that “the United States has reached an historical turning point in meeting long-standing immigration enforcement imperatives…” The report goes on to advocate for a change in focus to the how of enforcement: how can the United States’ resources be used in the best manner possible to uphold the nation’s immigration laws? According to many recent news reports in Reuters, CNN, NBC Politics, and other media, the second-term Obama administration plans to move quickly on comprehensive immigration reform. While it remains to be seen whether the President will be more successful in his second term than his first in passing such reform, it is clear from the enforcement statistics in the Migration Policy Institute that it is now more than ever crucial for immigrants to be aware of and maintain legal status in the United States.