The Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 budget request for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano unveiled yesterday, exemplifies the enforcement mentality which pervades the federal government’s approach to immigration. The two immigration-enforcement components of DHS—Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—consume 30% of the department’s total budget, while the immigration-services component, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is allotted a mere 5%. However, the budget request does throw a few much-needed crumbs to programs such as Asylum and Refugee Services and Immigrant Integration and Citizenship.

The DHS budget request for FY 2011 totals $56.3 billion—an increase of 1.7% over the department’s enacted FY 2010 budget. The funding requests for the three immigration-related components of DHS break down as follows:

  • CBP: $11.2 billion (a decrease of 2% from the enacted FY 2010 budget).

The budget request for the E-Verify electronic employment-verification system ($103.4 million), which is housed within USCIS, represents a decline from FY 2010 ($137 million). But the number of positions devoted to the program would increase to 338 (from 298 this year).

Despite the emphasis on immigration enforcement, the DHS budget request also includes two notable increases for services within USCIS:

  • Asylum and Refugee Services/Military Naturalizations: $207 million (up from $55 million in the enacted FY 2010 budget) and 744 positions.
  • Immigrant Integration and Citizenship: $18 million and 23 positions (up from $11 million and only 3 positions in FY 2010).

Unfortunately, in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, the DHS budget continues to throw billions of dollars into enforcement-only measures which for decades have proven unsuccessful at dealing with unauthorized immigration, and which do nothing to help the millions of would-be immigrants trapped in visa backlogs. Until U.S. immigration laws are overhauled, DHS will continue its fanciful (and expensive) quest to enforce a broken immigration system.

Photo by Adam Norwood.