News Release

Beyond the Wall “Debate”: The “Bipartisan Border Industrial Complex”


TODD MILLER, toddmemomiller at, @memomiller

Miller is the author of the just-released report “More Than A Wall: Corporate Profiteering and the Militarization of U.S. Borders” from the Transnational Institute. Miller has written on border and immigration issues for more than 15 years and resides in Tucson, Arizona. His most recent book is Empire of Borders: The Expansion of the U.S. Border Around the World.

Miller said today: “Joe Biden was not telling the truth when at the debate on Thursday he said that the Obama administration did not ‘lock people in cages’ or ‘separate families.’ The statement is an impossible one given the nearly 3 million deportations during the eight years of Obama, the most ever by a sitting president, among other things. With his denial what Biden tried to do was extract himself from a vicious border and immigration enforcement system that the Obama administration both bolstered and helped normalize.

“When Donald Trump took office in 2017, at his disposal was the most massive border and immigration apparatus in United States history, built on turbocharge for 25 years, particularly over the three previous administrations. There were already 650 miles of walls and barriers, nearly 21,000 Border Patrol agents, more than 250 immigration detention prisons, and billions of dollars of deployed surveillance technology. The border and immigration enforcement annual budget in 2017 was $20 billion dollars (combined CBP and ICE), a historic number compared to the annual budgets of the early 1990s that hovered around $1.5 billion. It is true that Trump has ratcheted up and consolidated this apparatus — he’s taken it to its limits in every way imaginable, including its limits of cruelty — at the same time all his tools were already in place.

“It is a system that is much bigger than any president: a complex of complicit administrations, politicians and policy makers of all stripes, and a surge of influential corporations ready to cash in with contracts There are companies at the ready to design and manufacture those very technologies and tools to surveil, arrest, and encage people. Between 2006 and 2018, CBP has given more than $26 billion (ICE $18 billion) in contracts to such corporations that include large military monoliths such as Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. From 2005 to 2018, many of those same companies were top campaign contributors to Congress Appropriation Committee and House Homeland Security Committee members. They were also the top lobbyists. It is this bipartisan border industrial complex which poses the biggest obstacle to a humane and compassionate response to migration.”

Miller is also author of the books Border Patrol Nation and Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration, and Homeland Security.