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With those statistics in hand, Mr. Obama and his top aides argue that they have checked the box on enforcement, and that it’s time to tackle legalization.

But MPI found that when controlled for inflation, spending on border and interior enforcement and the US-VISIT system has begun to drop from its peak.

In 2009, spending neared $20 billion when calculated in present-day dollar values. But it dropped to $17.9 billion in fiscal year 2012, which ended Sept. 30.