Always uncertain, House of Representatives action on immigration reform now appears definitively on off mode for 2014.
That’s because House Republicans loudly denounced Speaker John Boehner’s most recent effort to chart a way forward by proposing principles for legislation. They saw the specter of divisive infighting when what they want is a united front for their November re-election bids.
In shelving immigration action, the speaker sidestepped the problem of intraparty strife. He argued instead that his caucus could not trust President Barack Obama to implement any new immigration enforcement measures Congress would pass. This claim, however, overlooks the enormity of what successive Congresses and administrations, under both Republicans and Democrats, have accomplished in immigration enforcement — including throughout the Obama presidency.
Dating back 25 years, but significantly accelerated since 9/11, Congress has made steep investments to ensure that federal agencies can enforce immigration laws aggressively. The United States now spends more on immigration enforcement than on all its other principal criminal federal law enforcement agencies combined.
Spending for enforcement at the nation’s borders and inside the country, along with biometric screening of all foreign-born travelers arriving at U.S. airports, reached nearly $18 billion by fiscal 2012. That is 24 percent higher than the $14.4 billion spent for the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.