Reality check

In a current television spot, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Barbara Lee Woolen says, “I’m fed up with politicians that don’t do anything about illegal immigration.” The italics are ours.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Congressional Budget Office, these are among the “anything” that the current crop of politicians are doing, using the figures for the most recent available year, fiscal year 2004:

• 1,241,089 million illegal aliens were apprehended, 93 percent of them by the U.S. border patrol.

• 1,238,319 illegal aliens were expelled.

• 250 arrests were made for trafficking in humans, 89 indictments were returned, and 70 convictions obtained.

• 150 employers were arrested, 66 indictments returned, 46 convictions obtained.

• 1,310 immigration-related identity fraud arrests were made, 709 indictments, 408 convictions.

• There were 2,416 arrests for alien smuggling operations, 1,448 indictments, 899 convictions.

• 4,851 arrests were made in cases of large scale immigration-related crime organizations, 2,902 indictments, 2,308 convictions.

These items do not begin to scratch the surface of all federal and state efforts to deal with illegal immigration.

The cost of these efforts is huge—a single prosecution can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. There is no reliable figure for the cost of all enforcement activities or the dozens of ways the federal government tries to stop illegal immigration. Money provided by the federal government to the states to help them deal with illegal immigration alone comes to $2,501,300,000. Funding of federal efforts is many times that amount.