Enforcement Pays

By Jessica M. Vaughan on March 19, 2009

Also authored by James R. Edwards Jr.

This program, known as 287(g), allows police, sheriffs, and other local law enforcement agencies to provide direct assistance to federal agents in identifying illegal alien criminals and putting them on the path to removal from the country. By expediting the removal of foreign lawbreakers, 287(g) saves taxpayers money.

Its cost: about $60 million over the last three fiscal years. In contrast, ICE spent more than ten times that annual cost -- about $219 million -- last year alone to remove 34,000 aliens under the fugitive operations program. There are local benefits, too; the Arizona Department of Public Safety saved nearly $3 million in incarceration costs in just the first year.

Currently, illegal aliens who make it past border patrol agents, consular officers and port of entry inspectors are largely home free. The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has just a few thousand agents, concentrated in cities, to deal with a widely scattered illegal population that recently reached 12 million, including nearly seven million in the work force and as many as 400,000 in jails and prisons. This mismatch works well for illegal aliens, especially the criminals.

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