As Congress debates border-security funding and as governors demand more assistance, the Associated Press investigated what taxpayers spend securing the U.S.-Mexico border. Using White House budgets, reports obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, and congressional transcripts, the tally is $90 billion in 10 years. For taxpayers footing the bill, the returns have been mixed: fewer illegal immigrants but little impact on terrorism, and certainly no halt to the drug supply.
Last year, border guards seized a record 254,000 pounds of cocaine, 3.6 million pounds of marijuana, and 4,200 pounds of heroin. In response, Mexico’s cartel bosses simply sent more. An estimated 660,000 pounds of cocaine, 44,000 pounds of heroin and 220,000 pounds of methamphetamine are on American streets in a given year, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Last month, a Justice Department study reviewing the total cost of illicit drug use in the U.S., using cost-of-illness studies, federal crime and caseload statistics, and economic models, came up with a figure of $193 billion per year.