WASHINGTON (AP) :
The Obama administration spent more money on immigration enforcement in the last fiscal year than all other federal law-enforcement agencies combined, according to a report on the government's enforcement efforts from a Washington think tank.
The report yesterday from the Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan group focused on global immigration issues, said in the 2012 budget year that ended in September, the government spent about $18 billion on immigration enforcement programmes run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the US-Visit programme, and Customs and Border Protection, which includes the Border Patrol. Immigration enforcement topped the combined budgets of the FBI; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Drug Enforcement Administration and US Secret Service by about $3.6 billion dollars, the report's authors said.
The report comes amid renewed interest in immigration reform from Congress and the White House.
In the immediate aftermath of the November election, congressional Republicans suggested the time was right to begin reform talks anew. President Barack Obama, who won a record share of Hispanic voters, renewed a previous pledge to make immigration reform a priority.
Since then, President Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986, which legalised more than three million illegal immigrants and overhauled immigration laws, the government has spent more than US$187 billion on immigration enforcement.
According to the report, Immigration Enforcement in the United States: The Rise of a Formidable Machinery, federal immigration-related criminal prosecutions also outnumber cases generated by the Justice Department.