Border Security: Moving Beyond Past Benchmarks

Greg Chen and Su Kim
Date of Publication: 
January, 2013
Source Organization: 

Despite the continued calls to use more resources to reach "operational control" of the border, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) finds that the border security benchmarks of the past immigration reform bills have been met or exceeded.  

Border Security: Moving Beyond Past Benchmarks examines past immigration reform proposals, specifically the 2006, 2007, and 2010 Senate bills (S. 2611, S.1639, and S.3932), and evaluates the proposals in operational control, border personnel, border infrastructure and technology, and detention.  

The 2007 measure, in particular, would have required certain benchmarks that would have to be met before legalization could take place. Although none of these bills became law, they greatly influenced thinking about immigration enforcement in U.S. policy without clear measures of when border security is achieved. As of 2012, there were 21,444 border patrol agents, which is 1,000 more than what the 2007 bill required. More than 600 miles of fencing has been constructed across the U.S. border even though the 2007 bill called for 370 miles. According to the Migration Policy Institute, the nation spent $17.9 billion on immigration enforcement – almost most $4 billion more than the budgets of all other federal law enforcement agencies combined.  

The authors believe that "[i]mmigration reform proposals need to identify clearer goals for border security and ways to measure success rather than simply increasing resources."  

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Chen, G. and Kim, S. (2013). Border Security: Moving Beyond Past Benchmarks. Washington, D.C.: American Immigration Lawyers Association. Retrieved from|43061