Immigration reform supporters come to the cause for a variety of reasons, but one of the most commonly emphasized is the need to strengthen the country's borders.
A nearly finalized immigration bill in the Senate could devote as much as $3.5 billion toward a five-year border security plan, according to The New York Times. That's on top of the nearly $18 billion the federal government spent in overall immigration enforcement in the 2012 fiscal year.
Not all of that money goes to federal employees. The government contracts out certain services to private companies, which potentially stand to benefit from an increase in funding.
Private companies help provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) -- the agency that oversees the border and ports of entry -- with everything from IT services and drones to the uniforms worn by its employees, according to data provided by Bloomberg Government.
At the top of the list is the Pennsylvania-based tech company Unisys, with a $132 million contract in the 2012 fiscal year to provide hardware and software to CBP, among other services.
Interestingly, some of the companies being paid to maintain the border have also donated to politicians involved in the immigration reform process.
The aerospace and defense giant Lockheed Martin, for example, donated $127,000 to President Barack Obama's reelection campaign in 2012, according to figures compiled by OpenSecrets.org, a project of the Center for Responsive Politics. The company also gave $49,500 to Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the congressman spearheading the reform effort in the Senate.
Boeing, another company contracted for border security, donated in 2012 to senators working on reform, including Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), $16,500, and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), $10,000. The company gave roughly $191,000 to President Obama.
Both Lockheed Martin and Boeing are in the top echelon of political giving, and both have received vast amounts in federal contracts, with a focus on defense. Lockheed Martin received $17 billion in federal contracts in the 2011 fiscal year, the highest amount of any company, according to the government trade magazine Washington Technology.
Unsurprising, those heavy hitters also have a stake in border security, albeit a relatively small percentage of their overall profits come from federal contracts related to the border.
Still, defense-minded companies will be losing business as budget cuts take effect and the war in Afghanistan winds down, the Washington Technology reported in 2012. Border security could represent an area of growth amid those losses.
Here's a look at the top 15 private companies already benefiting from contracts with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and approximately how much they were paid in fiscal 2012:
*Figures courtesy of Bloomberg Government
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