Putting TRAC to Work
  Policy and Public Interest Groups
Center for Immigration Studies
May 16, 2019

Does the United States Need to Invest More in Border Enforcement?
By Donald Kerwin

In 1990, the total appropriation to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) for both immigration enforcement and adjudication of applications was $1.2 billion. By 2018, the enacted budgets of the two DHS immigration enforcement agencies, CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), equaled a combined $23.8 billion (DHS 2019, 21, 27). This figure does not include the significant immigration enforcement responsibilities and expenditures of: (1) US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which primarily adjudicates immigration applications; (2) the Department of State (DOS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and other federal agencies; (3) the federal criminal justice system, which prosecutes and adjudicates a high volume of illegal entry and re-entry offenses (TRAC 2017, 2018); and (4) the many states and localities officially delegated by ICE to enforce US immigration laws through programs like 287(g) (ICE 2018). While enforcement expenditures have increased, investments in the USCIS Asylum Corps and the Immigration Court system have lagged badly behind, leading to massive case backlogs and long delays in adjudicating cases (Kerwin 2018).

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