Border securitySharp drop in illegal crossers notwithstanding, “border industrial complex” keeps growing

Published 18 September 2012

Since 1986, U.S. immigration enforcement has cost the U.S. government $219 billion dollars; almost 80,000 workers now depend on immigration enforcement for their employment; illegal immigration has dropped sharply over the last four years, and is now at a 1971 level — but the what some call the “border industrial complex” keeps growing and growing

Analysts have estimated that since 1986, U.S. immigration enforcement has cost the U.S. government $219 billion dollars. Almost 80,000 workers depend on immigration enforcement for their employment. Illegal immigration has dropped over the last four years, but the what some call the “border industrial complex” keeps growing.

North Country Public Radio reports that since 1986 the government has spent billions of dollars on fences, cameras, unmanned drones, detention centers, and other equipment and activities aimed to stem the flow of illegal immigrants. Federal budgets shrink, and the number of illegal immigration drops, but growth of illegal immigration-related activities along the U.S. border with Mexico continues.

The infrastructure on the border includes fences which, in some places, have been built and rebuilt several times. Up to twenty-five miles north of the border, towers, sensors, and checkpoints are visible across the landscape.

The efforts have even stretched into cities where Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) pursue illegals and visa violators. Nationally there are about 250 immigrant detention centers. Some of those centers are run by the government while others are privately owned and operated. The government spends about $5 million a day to house and feed the people awaiting detained in these centers, awaiting deportation.

It is safe to say that there has been more money, manpower, infrastructure, technology, invested in the border-protection mission in the last three years than ever before,” DHS secretary Janet Napolitano told North County Public Radio.

The terrorist attack of 9/11 have been the main reason for the boost in border control-related activities as nearly every piece of security legislation since then has contained add-ons for immigration enforcement. 

Hal Rogers (R-Kentucky), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, thinks it may be time to pump the brake on spending, but it will be easier said than done. “It is a sort of a mini industrial complex syndrome that has set in there,” Rogers told North County Public Radio. “And we’re going to have to guard against it every step of the way.”

One of the more significant issue when it comes to border security is the projects that have failed and the amount of money spent on those projects.

SBI-Net was supposed to create a high-tech virtual fence which would need little manpower to manage. The envisioned virtual fence was supposed to use a series of towers, camera, radar, infrared sensor, and laser technology which, if proven effective, could be deployed along the entire