Clinton and Trump Focus on Different Aspects of Homeland Security

The United States played a massive role in shaping the modern world. As a result, the United States has become the military and economic ally to many countries in the international community, while also becoming the enemy to a number of countries and non-state actors. Regardless of the merits of America’s past foreign policy decisions, there is no doubt that current fears about the volatile and hostile international community will influence the upcoming election.

The tragic terrorist attacks on American soil, the rise of the Islamic State, and the mass migration of refugees set the background as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton present their plans to address homeland security and the protection of all Americans. Assessing each of the candidate’s plans on these topics will be beneficial to voters, especially with Election Day just around the corner.

Trump has made completing a wall along the United States-Mexico border a cornerstone of his campaign. Based on the information Trump has provided, his plan would cost at least $12.6 billion according to NTUF’s calculations. Trump has vowed to build a wall and force Mexico to pay for it by impounding remittances back to Mexico from illegal workers, by increasing visa fees, and by establishing fees at the ports of entry into the United States from Mexico. However, Trump’s plan for financing a southern border wall has been properly criticized for being protectionist, short sighted, and ultimately harmful to American consumers.

In addition, Trump calls for the tripling of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officers (ICE) to improve the monitoring and security of the border. This increase in ICE officers would cost taxpayers $10.8 billion over five years.

Trump continues to argue the practice of “catch-and-release” should be stopped, and has said all immigrants entering the country illegally should be detained until sent back. NTUF assumes Trump would implement this plan through providing State Criminal Alien Assistance Program grants to state and local governments to cover the costs related to incarcerating undocumented aliens convicted or charged with certain crimes. Related legislation has been introduced in Congress to have the Department of Homeland Security reimburse the states, and this plan would cost an estimated $14.4 billion over five years.

Establishing a valid and trackable way for people to enter and exit the United States has been another key goal of Trump’s homeland security and immigration policy. Trump would implement  a nationwide e-Verify system and expand the Visa Security Program. The nationwide, mandatory e-Verify system would allow employees to check the work eligibility of individuals and be sure they are hiring people that have been authorized to work in the United States. The Congressional Budget Office estimated nationwide e-verify would cost $635 million over five years. Additionally, expanding the Visa Security Program would allow more homeland security agents to root out potentially fraudulent activity within the visa system and would cost $120 million over three years.

Clinton’s homeland security plan goes beyond border security and visa reform to include immigration, criminal justice reform, and police training.

Specifically, Clinton calls for comprehensive immigration reform legislation with a path to full and equal citizenship. This plan has been criticised for its leniency toward those who have entered into the United States illegally and ultimately would cost $101 billion over five years.  

In addition, Clinton has vowed to better equip, protect, and train police officers through federal grants and federal training programs like the Department of Justice’s “Collaborative Reform” program. She believes that eliminating implicit racial basis in police departments and the elimination of racial profiling are national priorities, which would cost $10 million over two years and $1 billion over 5 years. The overall cost of Clinton’s full law enforcement plan is difficult to determine due to a lack of specifics. Clinton hopes these changes will better equip officers to lawfully and constitutionally carry out their duties while also protecting citizens from excessive punishment and hindrances.

Clinton is one of the few candidates, along with the likes of Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul, during this election to address criminal justice reform. She has proposed reforming mandatory minimum sentencing laws for nonviolent drug offenses, and eliminating sentence disparity for crack and powder cocaine violations. Clinton continues to preach a “treatment over punishment” philosophy when dealing with certain nonviolent criminals, especially those suffering from mental illness. Clinton’s two major sentencing reforms would collectively save taxpayers $418 million over five years. 


These issues represent another area where the candidates would implement starkly different policies. This post is part of a series comparing and contrasting the Presidential candidates side-by-side on the issues. Previous articles include: