Since 2003, the year the United States invaded Iraq, our government has also directed huge amounts of money toward enforcement along the U.S. border with Mexico, and toward pursuit and removal of undocumented immigrants.
Between 2003 and 2018, the number of Border Patrol agents doubled, and the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents has nearly tripled. During that period, spending on border patrol has ballooned from $1.5 billion to nearly $4.5 billion.
In return for these investments, we still see an average of one death a day, fractured families, and dozens of detainees languishing in jails without hope of case resolution.
Over $8 billion has been redirected from other budgets to fund expansion of border barriers. (For more information, see the website of the American Immigration Council.) In short, taxpayer money under three administrations has been used to criminalize desperate people, while Congress has dithered on the question of immigration policy reform.
I urge our representatives — Rep. Greg Walden, and Sen. Jeff Merkley and Sen. Ron Wyden — to roll back funding for inhumane enforcement and detention, and work toward a real immigration solution.
We are a nation of immigrants. The great majority of people who want to come here also desire the same things native-born Americans want – work opportunities that let them support families and help children pursue the dream that many of us have been blessed with by the accident of birth location.
We can do better. It’s long past time.