But that would continue an already decade-long expansion of the government agencies responsible for those tasks — even as the number of illegal border crossers has shrunk dramatically. That’s not even to mention the billions of dollars it would cost to build a brick-and-mortar wall across the length of the entire U.S.-Mexico border.
Here are six things to consider:
1. Border Patrol agents have doubled and the 2013 Senate bill proposed a bigger increase than Trump: The number of authorized agents has more than doubled since 2002 to more than 21,000. (According to the National Border Patrol Council, the officers union, about 1,500 of those authorized positions are unfilled owing to attrition.)
Trump’s proposal would represent a 24 percent increase in authorized jobs. The bipartisan immigration bill passed by the Senate in 2013 would have gone even further, expanding the Border Patrol to more than 38,000. Federal spending on the Border Patrol has also grown rapidly, climbing from $1.4 billion in fiscal year 2002 to $3.8 billion last year.
2. Apprehensions are down: Despite the growing number of officers patrolling the border, fewer would-be crossers are being caught. Apprehensions have fallen 79 percent from their peak in 2000.
This is generally seen as a sign that fewer people are trying to cross the border illegally. Increased border security and a slow-growing U.S. economy are thought to have discouraged illegal immigration. The Pew Research Center found that more Mexicans left the United States than entered between 2009 and 2014.
3. Spending on enforcement is way up: As with the Border Patrol, federal spending on Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which shares responsibility for enforcing immigration law, has already jumped by 84 percent since 2005. Trump did not say how he would raise the money to triple the ICE deportation force.
4. Deportations — or “removals” in ICE parlance …