With new amendments added to the Senate immigration bill by Sen. Bob Corker and Sen. John Hoeven, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that undocumented alien entry into the country would drop to 50 percent of its current rate. In prior estimates without the new amendments, the bill was expected to diminish illegal immigration by only 25 percent. The new amendments include an additional $38 billion in border security measures.
As an immigration lawyer in Texas, I recognize the compelling need of the United States to prevent the entry of undocumented immigrants who could present a criminal or national security threat, as well as the political reality that immigration reform’s passage is inextricably tied to stronger border security.
The $38 billion in border security programs would double the number of Border Patrol agents to almost 40,000 and provide this agency with new surveillance drones and sensors. New fencing along the southern border would also be built. Without the amendments, the number of new Customs and Border Patrol agents would only have numbered 3,500.
Many immigration experts have contended that border security is a moot issue because the net number of undocumented aliens is stable or actually declining, as robust deportation efforts by the federal government and limited work opportunities have stemmed illegal crossing. The 11.5 million undocumented aliens in the country in 2011 is slightly lower than the 11.6 million in 2010, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Stronger enforcement as well as a growing number of immigrants returning to their native countries has produced essentially a negative flow of undocumented aliens.
Many Congressional leaders, however, are deeply concerned that any new immigration reform bill would provide legal status or citizenship to undocumented aliens while leaving the door open to new immigrants. In 1986, when the U.S. granted amnesty to undocumented aliens, it spurred new generations of foreign nationals to enter the country in the hope they would be granted legal status.
Political leaders have tied a new immigration package to stringent border security measures that would limit entry. Many of the leaders of both political parties recognize the need to secure the support of the increasingly powerful Hispanic voting bloc, but quite a few of the Congressmen and Senators face strong opposition from constituents if they support immigration reform without strong border security.
As an experienced immigration attorney in Austin, I have long believed that the immigration system requires sweeping changes to help resolve long standing issues. While the nation should remain committed to enhancing its national security through more robust border security, ultimately proposed changes in the immigration system would also help the immigrant community and strengthen the country as a whole. In analyzing the latest set of obstacles to immigration reform, I am confident that Congress will produce an immigration reform package that will balance these issues to the benefit of the country.
Lyttle Law Firm, PLLC, has years of experience representing clients in a wide variety of immigration matters. Please contact my office at (512) 215-5225 to schedule a meeting.