Feds paid for room service, laundry and babysitters for illegal immigrants kept at hotels across Mexico.
Immigration officers are at the heart of the Trump administration’s efforts to tighten border security, but they are also the subjects of a high-stakes game involving billions of dollars in taxpayer dollars that could have a major impact on the region.
The Department of Homeland Security has about 8,000 immigration investigators working around the clock as the Trump administration presses ahead on immigration enforcement.
But the agency also has a sizable budget that costs taxpayers $3.6 billion a year.
Immigration officers work in detention centers along the southern border and at immigration courts in Texas, Arizona and California.
And because the agency is in charge of making sure the border is secure, officials at the sprawling facility in Brownsville, Texas, where they are headquartered, need to be able to protect the agency’s workers and resources from corruption and misconduct.
The agency faces an ongoing investigation by federal and local authorities, including the FBI, with allegations that some of its workers bribed public officials and stole millions of dollars in taxpayer money.
“We do need to make sure that we are adequately staffed,” said Roddie Muniz-Bautista, the agency’s chief financial officer. “There are a lot of resources that DHS has to secure the border.”
Bautista said there are about 9,700 people in the office. All are paid for by U.S. taxpayers who are required to help with the effort.
“We are a safety net for DHS,” he said. “But the work we are doing is critical.”
The office, which is in charge of immigration and customs, is one of the many agencies in the Department of Homeland Security that has come under scrutiny in recent years as the Trump administration continues to expand its border enforcement operations and seek to use immigration as a tool to crack