get decisions for both departments and may lead to more cost-effective use of the funds expended by each.


Budgeting for immigration enforcement in DOJ involves several unusual and challenging issues.

Over the past 10 years or so, apprehensions of unauthorized entrants and residents have fallen substantially. Rates of net illegal entry are now near zero. This downward trend would be expected to reduce demand for the immigration enforcement functions that DOJ administers, but that has not occurred. As detailed in the previous chapters, the demand for those immigration enforcement-related functions has increased, as has the cost per apprehension and removal.

The increases in costs reflect policy changes aimed at imposing increased consequences on illegal entrants and more aggressive internal efforts to identify and remove illegal residents. Those policies have resulted in higher proportions of those apprehended being subject to civil or criminal prosecution, detention, incarceration, and/or administrative removal. These historically specific factors, however, may give little indication of the trend in future demand for DOJ enforcement when, for instance, U.S. economic conditions improve.

Nature of the Budgeting Challenge

Although Congress, in its request for this study, indicated that the Department of Justice has had unusual difficulty in formulating its budget requests for immigration enforcement, only in a few instances in the past 10 years has an apparent underestimate of funding requirements led to significant requests for supplemental funding or other sizable adjustments. Only on two occasions, both associated with reorganization of immigration enforcement responsibilities in DOJ, were major adjustments made to its original funding request. Rather, DOJ has adjusted its operations to meet the changing demands on its parts of the enforcement system.

Nonetheless, a distinct budgeting problem complicates DOJ immigration enforcement efforts. Surges in DHS resources and changes in federal enforcement policies, strategy, and tactics—usually at DHS initiative—are major sources of unanticipated demands, with consequences for DOJ’s responsibilities. The volatility of apprehensions and policies that drive the demand for DOJ enforcement services is often greater at a local or regional level than at a national level.

Unanticipated demands for DOJ’s services have immediate and direct

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