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Quote of the Day: Border Wall Joe Outspends Every Other Administration on Security and Immigration Enforcement

border wall

By Todd Miller, Tom Dispatch, The “Open Border” Farce

If you count all the contracts for private industry from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since Joe Biden took office — for, that is, 2021, 2022, and 2023 — the number comes to $23.5 billion. And though you’d never guess it, given what we normally hear, that already beats Donald Trump’s total for his full four years in office, $20.9 billion. Or, to put the matter in a more historical perspective, private contracts for the Biden years already top the cumulative $22.5 billion spent in border and immigration enforcement budgets from 1975 to 1997. That’s 22 years if you weren’t counting.

In other words, it’s essentially guaranteed that the Biden administration will break all records for paying border contractors. And, in truth, if it weren’t for the “open borders” political mania of the moment, this wouldn’t be a surprise at all. Remember, while running for president in 2020, Biden received three times more campaign contributions than Trump from members of the top companies in the border industry. (The Donald talked a good game, of course, and received his share of the industry pie over the years, but that same border-industrial complex was right if it thought Biden would all too literally pay off for them.)

And keep in mind as well that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas represented some of the top border companies like Leidos and Northrop Grumman at a private law firm (where he earned $3.31 million) before joining the Biden administration. While the president has certainly traded in the hostile rhetoric associated with the bombastic Trump for a far more sterile and bureaucratic language, while adding in a healthy dose of the “humane,” budgets and private-sector contracts tell an all-too-familiar story in which the border-enforcement apparatus only continues to grow ever larger, regardless of who’s president.

As 2023 nears its end, there have simply never been as many opportunities to make a killing (figuratively as well as literally) by surveilling, arresting, caging, and expelling people from this country. In 2023, there were 8,033 such opportunities — and I’m speaking here about contracts in play — or about 22 contracts a day.

Among this year’s top border companies is Classic Air Charter, a former CIA contractor that is now getting $793 million to provide flights expelling people from the United States. Since Biden took office, deportation flights for Immigration and Customs Enforcement Air Operations have increased, as have the number of people detained, while private prison companies like CoreCivic and Geo Group continue to receive plenty of contracts to lock up migrants.

Among border contract stand-outs, Fisher Sand and Gravel was recently awarded $259.3 million for “border infrastructure,” presumably the same sort of border wall construction it did in the Trump years (for which it received $2 billion in contracts). That company also got one from the scandal-ridden, Steve-Bannon-led “We Build the Wall,” a private outfit that solicited donations to construct portions of Trump’s wall. And, mind you, that September contract for border infrastructure came just before the Biden administration announced that it would waive 26 laws protecting people and the planet, including the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, to put up a new section of border wall in Starr County, Texas.

In other words, just a glance at 2023 border contracts suggests that more walls, detention centers, and expulsion flights are coming. And don’t forget military monoliths like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman that also command hefty contracts to maintain CBP’s fixed-wing aircraft; or San Diego-based General Atomics that continues to make money off the Predator B unmanned drones it began selling to CBP in the early 2000s. No wonder some people think our borderlands are under military occupation.

In short (or long), that list of contracts speaks to anything but a “radical open-border policy.” Funds are being handed out for “unaccompanied alien children and family units transportation,” data centers, medical staffing services, infrastructure construction (lots of it), “soft-sided facilities” (meaning tent detention camps), surveillance system upgrades, software support, “travelers processing vetting software,” a “low energy non-intrusive inspection system” (whatever that may mean), detention centers, radios, data and analytical support services, guard and transport services — the list only goes on and on and on. Reading through it, one gets the impression that the border and immigration enforcement regime is its own civilization, with its own infrastructure and ever more expensive rhyme and reason.

And that fortification process is only poised to become yet more intensive. In October, buried in an emergency supplemental funding request addressing “key national security priorities” (included military assistance to Ukraine and Israel), the Biden administration included a whopping $14 billion in supplemental funding for that border and immigration apparatus. Added to a 2024 budget, which, at $28.2 billion, represented a slight decrease from 2023, if passed by Congress, that addition will further “bolster our nation’s border enforcement,” paving the way for an even more profitable 2024 for those border companies and more suffering and death.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    I voted for Biden because, well, Trump. I knew full well, however, that he is no progressive. When you think of his support for Israel, that’s not a surprise.(I know about the Hamas horrors but, for me, they are not good reasons to support Israel .)

    Like nearly all politicians who are elected to national offices from either major party, he is beholden to the military-industrial-financial complex, of which immigration and border services are enmeshed.

  2. Avatar

    To me, this illustrates how government works; also how many organizations work-tons of money gets spent, but the problem never gets fixed. If you actually fixed the problem, lots of people would lose their jobs. So, they keep working on the problem into eternity.

    Think of the diabetes association, or the homeless problem in California. Billions of dollars are made to “solve” these problems. The last thing anybody will do is something that might actually work.

  3. Avatar
    Barbara L. Jackson

    One thing that might help is if we truly had one person one vote. As long as politicians are dependent on donations to get elected, they will favor those who give them money. I am constantly getting numbers of emails requesting money. What this means is my money counts more than my vote.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      I would like to see the US adopt England’s way of doing elections. I despise our process. Cant wait until all the political ads start hitting the airwaves. That’s sarcasm, by the way. 🙂

  4. Avatar

    My husband and I have this gross habit of watching 10-15 minutes of the FOX morning show and 10-15 minutes of MSNBC. Most of the time we end up being disgusted at FOX but getting bored with MSNBC because it’s almost always just “this is why Trump is bad OMG”. Anyway, if you hear FOX talk about it, there are millions of people just walking across the southern border ever minute.

  5. Avatar

    A couple of things about the border. First off, as the article points out Biden is more responsive than Trump was, but can’t really point that out lest the left wing of the party gets offended. But here’s the problem, and it IS a problem. All the fence building and fence guarding won’t keep migrants out. These people traveled by land for thousands of miles, went through the dangerous Darién Gap and other dangers, no way a mere fence isn’t keeping them out. Then they simply game the asylum laws which allow them to stay in the U.S. until their hearing in 3-5 YEARS. They are gaming asylum hearings to circumvent immigration laws. You can’t blame the immigrants either, it is an issue of policy that needs to be addressed. The next step is all migrants that passed through another country to seek asylum should be immediately deported to their home country. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men building and guarding fences won’t have the effect of people being forced back to their country of origin after a long a perilous journey. Why? Because they’ll tell their countrymen NOT to do it. Will Republicans still demagogue the issue? Probably, but of all Democrat policies, allowing immigration laws to be flouted in such a way that it causes a crisis for border cities (and New York because of the bus policy) just isn’t cool. It also isn’t compassionate to those who make the journey, a lot of them end up injured, raped, or just plain dead.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      I agree that we have a huge intractable border problem that seems beyond fixing. That said, we need to try, while at the same time, remembering as you so aptly show, people go through a lot to make it to our southern border and request asylum (which they have a legal right to do). Many MAGA believers think ALL undocumented people (illegals in their dictionary) should be immediately expelled from the US. that would be 12-15 million people, mostly of Mexican descent. I live in rural Northwest Ohio. We have one of the largest per capita Mexican populations in the state. Deporting “illegals” would mean sending some of my neighbors and hundreds of other working locals back to Mexico. Some of these undocumented people have lived here for 50 plus years.

      Such people are, to put it bluntly, racists. Deporting millions of people would do what, exactly, besides send our economy into a full blown depression? In 2004, we lived in Yuma, Arizona. We had a front row seat to the border crisis and the work performed by Mexican migrants. They worked 12+ hour says for nominal wages and no benefits. If these honorable people stopped working, why produce displays would be empty overnight. I don’t of a legal white American who would do this backbreaking work for the money migrants are paid. We hired migrants to do yard work for us from time to time. I felt guilty over how hard they worked for such low pay. Sometimes, we would double their pay, and even then we felt it was too low.

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    I am extremely unhappy about Biden’s continuing Trump’s border wall crap, mostly for environmental and Indigenous rights. I would be devastated if I hadn’t stopped idolizing politicians. Seems like there isn’t much of a choice in elections anymore. I have no solution for the border problems, but destructive barriers aren’t it.

  7. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    No matter what this country does to fortify or militarize its border, it will be a Maginot Line.

    I am not comparing immigrants to an invading army. Rather, I use the Maginot analogy because that line of defense had the best military technology of its time and was believed to be impenetrable. It stretched from the Mediterranean to the English Channel, along France’s borders with Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium. But the Germans found a weak spot in the Ardennes, and the SS marched in.

    That is exactly what anyone who is determined or desperate enough to get into this country–or simply out of his or her own–will do. If there is a vulnerability, someone will find a way in.

    The only way to “fix” the border “crisis”–whether between the US and Mexico or between Europe and Africa/the Middle East/Asia is to improve conditions in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Venezuela, Haiti, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and any number of other countries. I put “fix” and “crisis” in quotes because that is how the countries to which migrants are fleeing see the situation. It is a “crisis” that those countries made: In the case of the US, it’s come through a demand for drugs that reap profits some will literally kill for because their illegality inflates their prices. And in Europe, the “crisis” is largely a result of colonialism.

    If I were a young person who saw no future but starvation or possible death at the hands of some gang I wouldn’t or couldn’t appease–or some ostensibly religious group that wants to imprison or kill me simply for being who I am–I would run for my life, immigration laws be damned.

  8. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Walls can keep people IN, as well. I predict a run for all the borders and coasts, if Trump or someone similar wins the Presidency. And if he were to, one of the first things he’ll do is put soldiers on the borders to keep fleeing citizens from escaping. As for the Southern borders, I can’t help but think, if previous administrations hadn’t meddled with democratically held elections from Mexico on down,you wouldn’t have to worry about that region. As today’s news showed us a few hours ago, there’s another border in existence. Jury’s still out,as to what’s happening with that situation.

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