The job of protecting the nation's borders is immense, encompassing nearly 7,500 miles of land borders; 12,380 miles of coastline; and a vast network of sea ports, international airports, ports of entry along the Mexican and Canadian borders, and visa-issuing consulates abroad. As of 2013, the government had built 651 miles of fencing along the border—about three times more than existed six years before. The U.S. now operates hundreds of remote cameras, more than 13,000 ground sensors ,and five drones in the area; and the number of Border Protection agents deployed along the border has doubled in the last decade, to more than 18,000.
Those steps, together with the sluggish American economy and record-high deportations, have slowed the flood of people trying to enter the U.S. without documents to a relative trickle. Many seasoned enforcement officials argue that if the law provided enough visas to meet the economy's demand for workers, border agents would be freed to focus on protecting the nation from truly dangerous individuals and activities, such as drug-trafficking, smuggling, and cartel violence.