America’s Immigration System Wastes Tax Dollars

September 22, 2011

Congress’ failure to fix the broken immigration system has led to record and wasteful government spending on immigration enforcement. The continued Congressional focus on enforcing outdated rules that haven’t changed in more than 20 years has come at an unjustifiably high cost to the American taxpayer. Billions of dollars could be saved if government agencies better used the resources they’ve already been allocated, if Congress terminated wasteful or duplicative programs, refocused our enforcement priorities on real threats, or were not bogged down in the apprehension, detention, and removal of immigrants who have become an essential part of our workforce.

For Example:

  • THE GOVERNMENT SPENDS $23,000 TO DEPORT A SINGLE IMMIGRANT. In 2010, our Government deported 197,000 immigrants with no criminal record. At $23,000 per removal, taxpayers are shelling out more than $4.5 billion per year to remove immigrants who would otherwise be law-abiding taxpayers themselves if allowed to stay.


  • THE AVERAGE YEARLY BUDGET INCREASE FOR BORDER PATROL IS AN ASTRONOMICAL $300 MILLION. Since 2005, the budget for the Border Patrol has gone up an average of $300 million per year, despite declining numbers of people crossing the border illegally. Simply stopping increases in the budget would save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars per year.


  • THE GOVERNMENT COULD SAVE MORE THAN $4 MILLION A DAY IF NON-VIOLENT UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS WERE NOT JAILED. The government arrests undocumented immigrants and detains them expensive prison facilities regardless of whether they are violent. If the government made greater use of less expensive alternatives to detention for non-violent immigration violators, it could save approximately $4.4 million per night.


  • THE GOVERNMENT SPENDS $7,500 FOR EVERY APPREHENSION AT THE BORDER. In 2005, government expenses for border security equaled approximately $1,400 for each person apprehended on the border. Today, the government spends more than $7,500 for each apprehension, a 500% increase


  • ALLOWING UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS TO STAY AND WORK LEGALLY WOULD SAVE BILLIONS AND BOOST TAX REVENUES. If, instead of chasing, jailing, and deporting immigrant workers who are essential to our economy, the government allowed them to stay and work legally, not only would billions of dollars be saved, but tax revenues would be increased by approximately $5 billion in the first few years. Bringing undocumented workers into the system and paying them on the books will boost their earnings and boost tax receipts.