The government is spending more than ever before to crack down on illegal immigration, but the bang for the taxpayer buck has plummeted.

The Obama administration allocated $17.9 billion last year to the three agencies in charge of policing our borders—substantially more than it devoted for the combined budgets of the FBI, Secret Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Over the past seven years, the Department of Homeland Security doubled the number of agents patrolling the border to 21,444.

Yet apprehensions of illegal immigrants dropped to a 40-year low in fiscal 2011—reaching 340,252, or about a fifth of what they were in 2000. That might sound like a success, until you consider that illegal immigration largely slowed because of the bad economy and that border agents have managed to basically do less with more.