Border Security Amendment Wastes Money, Adds Taxes, Fails to Address the Causes of Illegal Immigration

Washington, D.C., June 26, 2013 — Today, the Senate voted to approve a major security amendment to the Senate immigration bill (S. 744). The amendment co-sponsored by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., will mandate the completion of the 700 mile border fence and dramatically increase the quantity of border security spending and personnel on the border.

David Bier, Immigration Policy Analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, called the Hoeven-Corker amendment a wasteful and flawed approach to illegal immigration.

“The security provisions are doomed to fail because they ignore why people enter illegally,” Bier said. “What the bill needed was not more government spending, but a new approach—creating alternatives to illegal immigration that divert future flows into a legal process. We don’t need more physical barriers to illegal entry. We need fewer bureaucratic barriers to legal entry.”

Bier said the bill should connect border security to guest work visas. “A real reform would be to make guest work visas automatically increase in any year that border security fails to catch 90 percent of border crossers,” Bier said. “When people are willing to risk their lives and freedom to cross the border, it is a market signal that visa supply is nowhere near visa demand.”

Bier said there are particularly wasteful provisions in the amendment. “Not only does this amendment create $1.5 billion in new taxes for employers (p. 114), it doesn’t even use the money to pay for the new spending—it gives it as subsidies to the states,” he said. “Moreover, the fence will cost nearly $21 million per mile to build, must be replaced in 20 years and will only be a brief delay on a migrants’ journey across the border anyway.

“America needs a new approach to border security—one that secures and protects legal movement. But this amendment fails to do that, wastes money, and will stand as a permanent reminder of America’s restrictive and closed system, which will just perpetuate more of the same.”