Back to Top

Enforcing Immigration Laws

Thousands of people try to enter this country illegally every year by sea, many via highly dangerous and illegal smuggling operations. Intercepting these offenders at sea means they can be safely returned to their country of origin without the costly processes required if they had successfully entered the United States.

As the United States' primary maritime law enforcement agency, the Coast Guard enforces immigration laws at sea. The Coast Guard conducts patrols and coordinates with federal agencies and foreign countries to detain undocumented migrants at sea and prohibit entry via maritime routes to the United States and its territories.

Illegal immigration can cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year in social services. In addition to relieving this financial burden on our citizens, the Coast Guard's efforts help to support legal migration systems. Primarily, the Coast Guard maintains its humanitarian responsibility to prevent the loss of life at sea, since the majority of migrant vessels are dangerously overloaded, unseaworthy or otherwise unsafe.