The 1,200 National Guardsmen that Barack Obama dispatched to help patrol the US-Mexico border in the summer of 2010 have caught plenty of illegal immigrants—but it hasn’t been cheap. The guardsmen have helped catch 25,514 illegal immigrants and have cost the government $160 million, which works out to $6,271 per bust, the Washington Post reports. “As a mayor, I am not going to say we don’t want more security,” says Hidalgo, Texas’ mayor. “But as a taxpayer? I would say something different.”
Critics also complain that the program is inefficient. Pentagon rules forbid Guard troops from pursuing suspects, and require them to work in pairs. So, a recent Government Accountability Office report points out, it takes three men to do the work of one—one Guard duo to spot a border crosser, and one Border Patrol agent to actually catch him. But supporters say the figures are misleading, because we can’t quantify how many drug smugglers and other criminals the Guard’s presence has deterred.