“SAFE” Bill, an Affront to the Latino Community

Phoenix, Arizona – This week, the House Judiciary Committee approved the Strength and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act, sending a strong message against immigration reform advocates, including the countless Latino communities in America. Mi Familia Vota issued the following statement:

“To say that we are disappointed in Representative Gowdy and the rest of the Judiciary Committee members, who voted to pass this heartless bill, is an understatement. The SAFE Act is by far one of the worse pieces of legislation that stands as an affront to all communities in America, particularly our growing Latino population.

“This divisive bill would have a devastating impact on Latinos and immigrants as it is geared to criminalize and racially profile our community. It would be used as a tool of fear, encouraging more detention, deportation and separation of families, and ultimately turning the civil rights clock backwards.

“The support of the SAFE Act sends a message of hate. Representatives who voted in favor of it not only reject the call for commonsense and humane immigration reform, but also continue to ignore and disregard the Latino vote and that of the strong majority of Americans who want real and fair immigration reform that provides a clear path to citizenship and keeps families united.

“We hope that the House does not continue to lift this message and instead works to pass smart legislation for the good of our country.”


Is Doubling Border Patrol (Again) a Wise Use of Border Security Resources?

Adam Isacson, Senior Associate for Regional Security-WOLA:

The Corker amendment would roughly double the size of U.S. Border Patrol to about 40,000 members. Is that a wise use of funds?

The Facts:

Border Patrol has already doubled in size [PDF] since 2005, and quintupled in size since 2003. There were 9,891 agents stationed at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2005; by the end of 2012 there were 18,516.

Meanwhile, border crossings are way down. In 2000, Border Patrol agents apprehended [PDF] 1,643,679 people near the U.S.-Mexico border. By last year, that number had dropped to 356,873.

As the agency grew and border-crossers dropped, the number of “apprehensions per agent” has fallen to historic lows. In 2000 each Border Patrol agent at the U.S.-Mexico border apprehended an average of 192 border-crossers. By 2012 the average was 19 apprehensions per agent.

Given this remarkable drop, is not clear how much more a further doubling of Border Patrol would achieve. Dropping the ratio to 10 apprehensions per agent per year would be a small gain for such a great expense.

That expense would be immense. If we very conservatively estimate the cost of maintaining a Border Patrol officer (salary, benefits, training, vehicles, fuel, uniforms, etc.) at US$100,000 per year, then 20,000 new agents would cost the U.S. Treasury US$2 billion per year. (The agency’s current budget [PDF] is about US$3.5 billion.)

An additional US$2 billion per year is far more money than the current Senate immigration reform bill contemplates spending. S.744 foresees up to US$6.5 billion total, to be spent over five-plus years, in new border security funds.

Given these apprehension and staffing trends, doubling Border Patrol does not appear to be the most efficient use of an additional US$2 billion per year.

“For people who are concerned about border security, once they see what’s in this bill, it’s almost overkill,” Sen. Corker said today. We agree with that, except for the “almost.”
WOLA‘s Border Fact Check separates rhetoric from reality, debunking false or misleading claims to inform you about what is really happening on the U.S.-Mexico border.

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