Immigration Enforcement in the United States: The Rise of a Formidable Machinery

Report Author: 
Doris Meissner, Donald M. Kerwin, Muzaffar Chishti and Claire Bergeron
Date of Publication: 
January, 2013

Immigration Enforcement in the United States: The Rise of a Formidable Machinery

Immigration Enforcement in the United States: The Rise of a Formidable Machinery offers a detailed analysis of the current immigration enforcement system that was set in motion with passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) in 1986. This is a 182-page report traces the evolution of the system in terms of budgets, personnel, enforcement actions and technology. It examines programs and results ranging from Secure Communities and 287(g) to deportations, detention, post-9/11 visa screening and new federal databases, explaining how they have intersected to create a complex, interconnected, cross-agency system.  

MPI Immigration Enforcement in the US

Among its key findings:

  1. More than four million non-citizens, primarily unauthorized immigrants, have been deported since 1990 with removals rising from 30,039 in FY 1990 to 391,953 in FY 2011.
  2. Fewer than half of the non-citizens deported from the U.S. are removed pursuant to a formal hearing before an immigration judge with the majority removed by the Department of Homeland Security via its administrative authority.
  3. The nearly 430,000 non-citizens detained in the immigration detention system in FY 2011 exceeded the number serving sentences in federal Bureau of Prisons facilities for all other federal crimes.
  4. Immigration enforcement spending has totaled nearly $187 billion in the 26 years since IRCA ($219 billion in 2012 dollars).

Click here for the report in brief.  Get more from the Migration Policy Institute

Citation: 

Meissner, D., Kerwin, D. M., Chishti M., and Bergeron, C. (2013). Immigration Enforcement in the United States: The Rise of a Formidable Machinery. Washington, D.C.: Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved from http://www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/enforcementpillars.pdf

Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute
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