Friday, August 6, 2010

Another $600 million wasted on Border Patrol

I didn't realize that my Wednesday post, Increased Border Security Doesn’t Stop Immigration, would end up being so timely.  Last night, the Senate voted to spend another $600 million on immigration enforcement.  From the AFP.

The US Senate has voted to beef up US-Mexico border security with another 1,500 agents and more unmanned aerial vehicles that scan the frontier for undocumented immigrants or drug runners.
The legislation's 600-million-dollar price tag would be paid for by raising fees on what the measure's backers called a handful of foreign firms that exploit US visa programs to improperly import workers to the United States.
The measure includes money for 1,000 new US Border Patrol agents to form a "strike force" for quick deployment, 250 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as well as 250 new Customs and Border Protection officers at ports of entry, and to boost communications among law-enforcement officials.

What's galling about this is that all this money being spent is essentially being thrown away.   As I showed in my last post, in the past, no matter how much we spend on past enforcement techniques, the number of illegal immigrants never went down.  Maybe this money wouldn't be a waste if they were going to try something new, but there is no new program here.  I seriously doubt that the impact of this will be anything but a small blip - if that.

immigration_enforcement_vs_undocumented_workers
(Click chart for larger image. Click here for the numbers)

Another point that suggests this is a waste is where the money is going.  45% of immigrants who aren't here legally are from expired visas.  However, of the 1500 new enforcement agents that are being hired, 67% of them are going to patrol the border, 17% are going to other ports of entry, and only 17% will be in Immigration and Customs Enforcement - not all of which are guaranteed to be immigration enforcers.

This bill will likely become law.  The bill passed on a voice vote so we know that it's a pretty popular bill in the senate.  Now that it's passed its going to go to the house of representatives.  Considering a very similar bill (costing $701 million) had already passed the house of representatives (239-182), that this Senate bill will easily pass.  The only problem is that the house is currently adjourned for the august recess.  However, it will be called back into session to pass another bill that the Senate has sent them.  Perhaps they will pass this bill while they're at it.
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