EL PASO, Texas - An expert on border enforcement policies said billions of public dollars on border patrol agents, aircrafts and technology to secure the border from illegal entry is a bad investment.
So far, the proposed immigration bill requires lawmakers approve about $3 billion in border enforcement before opening a path to citizenship for more than 11 million immigrants in the U.S. Illegally.
Dr. Josiah Heyman is an Associate Professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, who researches and publishes on border enforcement policies. He points to border patrol data which show illegal entry into the U.S. is on a drastic decline. Just ten years ago in El Paso, there were about 100,000 people apprehended by the Border Patrol for crossing illegally. Last year, there was only about 9,000 arrests.
Heyman said illegal entry is down because because Mexico's economy has improved in the last two decades. He said Mexicans started having fewer children, so there are fewer young people looking for jobs and trying to migrate to the U.S.
"It's fiscally irresponsible to continue to increase enforcement between ports of entry without metrics," said Heyman on Wednesday.
Heyman believes lawmakers should focus on making ports of entry more efficient, including better staffing to stop drug cartel cash and drugs, not more border patrol agents trying to spot illegal immigrants between ports.
"We can put money in border patrol agents chasing fewer and fewer people or would put money in something that really would make the country safer."
Heyman said his research shows there are as many if not more people leaving the u-s than entering it. "In the interior of the U.S., the border is seen in an emotional and symbolic way. This is an image that's disconnected from reality. But people don't want reality. They want emotional rhetoric."
Also, he points to customs estimates that show about 40-percent of illegal immigrants overstayed their visas, rather than crossed into the U.S. illegally.