- Federal spending on immigration enforcement is 11 times greater than spending to enforce labor policies, reported the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a progressive think tank. EPI cited its analysis of 2018 federal budget data.
- EPI said that based on its analysis, immigration enforcement was the top U.S. law enforcement priority. According to EPI's analysis of the federal budget, labor standards enforcement agencies received $2 billion in 2018. The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) released its own analysis of federal budget figures that found the principal immigration enforcement agencies received $24 billion in funding in 2018.
- The immigration enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Office of Biometric Identity Management received funds from Congress to employ 78,800 workers. The 10 labor standards enforcement agencies combined received funding to employ 10,400 workers, EPI reported.
According to EPI and the Center for Popular Democracy, the workload of federal agencies and investigators who police the labor market has increased too much for them to effectively do the job they are tasked with. States have stepped into some of this gap by passing their own labor laws; some have raised minimum wages and passed laws covering predictive scheduling, pay history bans, and the removal of questions about criminal backgrounds on application forms, known as ban-the box rules.
Immigration has been a high profile policy priority for the current administration. The focus on immigration enforcement has eased somewhat when it comes to highly skilled workers who want to come to the U.S. This exception should be welcome news for U.S. employers, some of whom have been vocal about their need for skilled foreign labor to fill tech jobs and what the National Association of Manufacturers estimates to be as many as 4 million manufacturing jobs in the next decade.
However, denials for H-1B visas during the first quarter of 2019 were up by 32%, a substantial increase in denials from previous years, according to the National Foundation for American Policy based on analysis of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data. In January, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reversed the order by which the USCIS selects H-1B petitions.