Although undocumented immigration is at its lowest point in over 40 years, experts say there’s no end in sight for the growth of security along the U.S.-Mexico border. An NPR story broadcast today describes the southern border as “an industrial complex that is fed by the government and supplied by defense contractors and construction companies.”
Border security infrastructure includes a border fence, towers, sensors, permanent checkpoints, and aerial surveillance including Blackhawk helicopters and military blimps. Border control efforts don’t stop at the border, but rather extend to 250 immigrant detention centers and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agencies throughout the U.S. In total, roughly 80,000 federal employees work in immigration enforcement.
According to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, “It is safe to say that there has been more money, manpower, infrastructure, technology, invested in the border-protection mission in the last three years than ever before.” This investment has paid off, as border apprehensions and undocumented migration are at historic lows.
However, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Hal Rogers (R-KY) says that it’s going to be hard to reel in spending: “It is a sort of a mini industrial complex syndrome that has set in there,” says Rogers. “And we’re going to have to guard against it every step of the way.