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CRS - Immigration Enforcement Within the United States (April 6, 2006)

CRS - Immigration Enforcement Within the United States (April 6, 2006)

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Published by: J Cox on Nov 15, 2009
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Order Code RL33351
Immigration Enforcement Within the United States
April 6, 2006
Alison Siskin, Coordinator,Andorra Bruno, Blas Nuñez-Neto,Lisa M. Seghetti, and Ruth Ellen WasemDomestic Social Policy Division
 
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Immigration Enforcement Within the United States
Summary
An estimated 11 million unauthorized aliens reside in the United States, and thispopulation is estimated to increase by 500,000 annually. Each year, approximately1 million aliens are apprehended trying to enter the United States illegally. Althoughmost of these aliens enter the United States for economic opportunities and familyreunification, or to avoid civil strife and political unrest, some are criminals, andsome may be terrorists. All are violating the United States’ immigration laws.Immigration enforcement is the regulation of those who violate provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This includes violations of the INA’scivil provisions (e.g., violate the conditions of their admittance), as well as U.S.citizens or aliens who violate the criminal provisions (e.g., marriage fraud or aliensmuggling). Many divergent tasks are incorporated under the banner of immigrationenforcement. These include removing aliens who should not be in the United States,investigating alien smuggling and trafficking, patrolling between and at ports of entry, combating document and benefit fraud, and enforcing the prohibitions againstemployers hiring aliens without work authorization.Historically, more resources (measured in staff hours) have been allotted toenforcement at the border than enforcement within the United States. While theamount of U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) resources almost doubled between FY1997and FY2003, time spent on other enforcement activities increased only slightly, whilethe number of inspection hours decreased. Furthermore, focusing on “interior”enforcement, in FY2003, the largest amount of staff time was devoted to locatingand arresting criminal aliens (39%), followed by administrative and non-investigativeduties (23%) and alien smuggling investigations (15%). Only 4% was devoted toworksite enforcement (i.e., locating and arresting aliens working withoutauthorization, and punishing employers who hire such workers).Congress has spent much time debating immigration enforcement and theunauthorized alien population. Congress could allocate more resources toimmigration enforcement activities, raising the question of what is the most efficientallocation of resources among the different enforcement tasks. For example, someassert that the United States has not truly tried immigration enforcement, arguing thatmost of the resources have been devoted to border enforcement, instead of fullyengaging in other types of immigration enforcement; others contend that only alegalization program can reduce the unauthorized population. In addition, Congresscould expand the immigration enforcement role of other federal agencies and stateand local law enforcement. Many fear, however, that this option will distract theagencies and local law enforcement from their primary missions. Since many of theunauthorized aliens come to the United States for economic opportunities, someargue that a guest worker program, creating opportunities for a large number of aliensto come to the United States to work, could significantly reduce unauthorizedmigration. Others argue that an increase in the enforcement of the prohibition againsthiring illegal alien workers and the use and manufacturing of fraudulent documentswould make it more difficult for unauthorized aliens to find work, resulting in adecrease in the unauthorized population. This report will not be updated.
 
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Key Policy Staff: Immigration Enforcement
Subject AreaAnalystPhoneE-mail
CoordinatorAlison Siskin7-0260asiskin@crs.loc.govAlien smuggling andtraffickingAlison Siskin7-0260asiskin@crs.loc.govBenefit and documentfraudRuth Ellen Wasem7-7342rwasem@crs.loc.govBorder patrolBlas Nuñez-Neto7-0622bnunezneto@crs.loc.govDetention and removalAlison Siskin7-0260asiskin@crs.loc.govInspectionsBlas Nuñez-Neto7-0622bnunezneto@crs.loc.govWorksite enforcementAndorra Bruno7-7865abruno@crs.loc.gov

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