Corporate Interests at the Border

Within the framework of the “Immigration Industrial Complex,” corporate interests have become interconnected with immigration and border enforcement policy and legislation. Increasing “alliances” of private prison corporations, defense contractors and technology companies with government actors and agencies–elected officials, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security and the Border Patrol–have engendered a “hyper-militarization” of the border that continues today as more and more money is spent under the banner of “enforcement.” This nexus of spending, political action and corporate involvement further undermines meaningful immigration reform while simultaneously promoting the violation of human rights at the border.

As explained in depth in the Border Militarization Policy section, since the 1920s, the US-Mexico border has been home to expansive military and defense development through various government initiatives, much of which has only increased in scope since 9/11. This site is largely shaped by what is becoming known as the “Immigration Industrial Complex,” which combines facets of the prison industrial complex and the military industrial complex. These networks make use of the War on Terror and War on Drugs narratives in order to demonize and ostracize migrants and legitimize border enforcement, in turn escalating the violation of migrants’ rights in the name of profit. The following sections aid in understanding corporate interests at the border.

This graph depicts federal funding for ICE and CBP per year, from 2005 through the proposed 2022 budget (released May 2021) which is to be approved in fall 2021. NNIRR and allies in the immigrant rights movement are enraged with the Biden administration for keeping funding at the same level as during Trump years, breaking with a promise to bring relief to immigrant communities and decrease the funding for enforcement. Who benefits from these numbers? The many corporations with government contracts providing technology, security and military equipment, private prisons and more…

Data Source: American Immigration Council (Jan. 20, 2021) “The Cost of Immigration Enforcement and Border Security”