“More than a Wall: Corporate Profiteering and the Militarization of US Borders,” a new report published by the Transnational Institute and authored by journalist Todd Miller, was released this morning.
Pushing beyond the headlines, the report considers how “the strong political consensus – both Republican and Democrat – in support of border militarization that long pre-dates the Trump administration” shapes border related spending in the US. This kind of history helps readers better understand the kinds of structural change required to make the United States truly welcoming to immigrants, especially those fleeing poverty and persecution.
“More than a Wall” delves into the nitty-gritty of the US border control regime, making accessible statistics and information that will serve campaigners as well as activists and journalists, and interest anybody concerned about social justice. Miller notes, for example, that border control budgets
have more than doubled in the last 13 years and increased by more than 6000% since 1980. This growth was matched by a similar growth in border patrol from 4,000 agents in 1994 to 21,000 today. Under its parent CBP agency (which includes an Office of Air and Marine, investigative units, and the Office of Field Operations) there are 60,000 agents, the largest federal law- enforcement agency in the United States.
Importantly, border security has become a corporate goldmine: “ICE, CBP and Coast Guard together issued more than 344,000 contracts for border and immigration control services worth $80.5 billion between 2006 and 2018.” These contracts went to scores of corporations and universities, but a handful of major companies have made it especially good off of what the report calls the Border-Industrial Complex. These include: “Accenture, Boeing, Elbit, Flir Systems, G4S, General Atomics, General Dynamics, IBM, L3 Technologies, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, PAE, Raytheon, UNISYS.” These war profiteers are also major campaign donors and lobbyists, as detailed in the report.
“The fact that giant corporations are both benefiting from and driving border militarization needs to be front and center of one of the most important discussions happening in the United States at this time,” stated report author Todd Miller in a media release. As the report makes abundantly clear, there is continuity in the corporate profiteering related to border militarization and control: this is not about Trump, rather, it is structural.