Border Security

September 27, 2013 • Volume 23, Issue 34
Is the buildup in border protection effective?
By Reed Karaim


An 18-foot-high fence combats illegal immigration (AFP/Getty Images/Mark Ralston)
An 18-foot-high fence combats illegal immigration in Nogales, Ariz., home of the nation's biggest Border Patrol station. Fences, surveillance towers, ground sensors, unarmed drone aircraft and more than 21,000 federal agents guard the nation's borders, mainly in the Southwest. (AFP/Getty Images/Mark Ralston)

The United States has poured unprecedented resources into securing its borders, spending billions of dollars on surveillance technology, fencing and personnel. Today more than 21,000 federal agents guard the borders, nearly 10 times the total in 1980. The buildup, particularly strong along the 1,933-mile-long Mexican border, also includes new measures at so-called ports of entry — authorized border-crossing points, seaports and airports. Concerns about illegal immigration initially spurred the buildup, but it accelerated after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Immigration reform legislation under consideration by Congress includes additional measures, including doubling the Border Patrol and allocating billions more for fencing and surveillance. But critics question the additional spending, saying existing border-security measures have not deterred illegal immigration or made the nation safer from terrorism. Supporters, however, point to a reduction in illegal crossings as proof the buildup is working.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Immigration and Naturalization
Mar. 19, 2021  Immigration Overhaul
Feb. 24, 2017  Immigrants and the Economy
Sep. 02, 2016  U.S.-Mexico Relations
Oct. 23, 2015  Immigrant Detention
Sep. 27, 2013  Border Security
Mar. 09, 2012  Immigration Conflict
Dec. 2010  Europe's Immigration Turmoil
Sep. 19, 2008  America's Border Fence
Feb. 01, 2008  Immigration Debate Updated
May 04, 2007  Real ID
May 06, 2005  Illegal Immigration
Jul. 14, 2000  Debate Over Immigration
Jan. 24, 1997  The New Immigrants
Feb. 03, 1995  Cracking Down on Immigration
Sep. 24, 1993  Immigration Reform
Apr. 24, 1992  Illegal Immigration
Jun. 13, 1986  Immigration
Dec. 10, 1976  Illegal Immigration
Dec. 13, 1974  The New Immigration
Feb. 12, 1964  Immigration Policy Revision
Feb. 06, 1957  Immigration Policy
Nov. 27, 1951  Emigration from Europe
Feb. 09, 1945  Immigration to Palestine
Sep. 30, 1940  Forced Migrations
Apr. 18, 1939  Immigration and Deportation
Jul. 27, 1931  Deportation of Aliens
Mar. 12, 1929  The National-Origin Immigration Plan
Aug. 19, 1927  Immigration from Canada and Latin America
Nov. 01, 1926  Quota Control and the National Origin System
Jul. 12, 1924  Immigration and its Relation to Political and Economic Theories and Party Affiliation
Crime and Law Enforcement
Immigration and Naturalization
Terrorism and Counterterrorism