CMS Executive Director Donald Kerwin co-authors Migration Policy Institute Report on Immigration Enforcement in the United States

MPI Immigration Enforcement in USOn Monday, January 7, 2013, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) released a report titled, “Immigration Enforcement in the United States: The Rise of a Formidable Machinery.”  The 182-page report was co-authored by Donald Kerwin, Executive Director for the Center for Migration Studies, along with Doris Meissner, MPI Senior Fellow and Director of its US Immigration Policy Program; Muzaffar Chishti, Director of the MPI Office at the New York University School of Law; and Claire Bergeron, MPI Research Assistant.

The report offers a detailed analysis of the U.S. immigration enforcement system as it has evolved since the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA).  It describes six pillars on which this system is built: border enforcement, visa controls and travel screening, information and interoperability of data systems, workplace enforcement, the intersection of the criminal justice system and immigration enforcement, and detention and removal of non-citizens.



Among the report’s other key findings:

  • More than 4 million non-citizens have been removed (deported) from the United States since 1990, with removals rising from 30,039 in FY 1990 to 391,953 in FY 2011.
  • Fewer than half of the non-citizens removed from the United States are removed pursuant to a formal hearing before an immigration judge.
  • The nearly 430,000 non-citizens held in the immigration detention system in FY 2011 exceeded the number of prisoners serving sentences in federal Bureau of Prisons facilities for all other federal crimes.
  • Immigration enforcement spending has totaled nearly $187 billion in the 26 years since IRCA ($219 billion in 2012 dollars).
  • Spending on Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and DHS’s primary immigration enforcement technology initiative, the US Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program, exceeded $17.9 billion in FY 2012.  In comparison, combined spending for all other federal criminal law enforcement agencies (the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals Service and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) stood at $14.4 billion in FY 2012.

An MPI-hosted discussion on the report was aired on C-SPAN.  The full video of the event can be found at

The full report can be downloaded at

A summary version is available at