Over the past decade, South Africa’s political leadership has increasingly framed international migration as a threat to national, physical and economic security. This has been accompanied by popular and political calls to strengthen border controls and increase enforcement through detention and deportation. This development will bring potential costs and benefits to the economy and real, direct costs to the taxpayer. At present, there is no publicly available financial information on South Africa’s expenditure on immigration enforcement and no estimates of the potential costs of increasing immigration control. This report constitutes an initial effort to estimate these costs. It finds that the costs to the South African state of enforcing its migration policy are largely unknown to the South African public and the state itself. Through an analysis of public records and budgets on the police, defence force, and other associated public bodies, this report suggests that direct expenditure on enforcing immigration is relatively modest as a percentage of GDP, or when compared with countries in Europe and North America. However, in absolute terms, the figures are high by African standards and not adequate to support a programme of action that can accomplish the government’s stated objectives. In part, this is because significant funds are spent (unsuccessfully) on defending the government for failure to comply with the law.
Mthembu-Salter, G.; Amit, R.; Gould, C.; Landau, L.B. Counting the Cost of Securitising South Africa&#8217;s Immigration Regime. Migrating out of Poverty RPC Working Paper 20. Migrating out of Poverty Consortium, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK (2014) 20 pp.