Border Security Amendments Won’t Work Without Legal Immigration Fix

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 13, 2013 — Yesterday, Sen. John Cornyn proposed a major amendment to the Senate immigration bill (S. 744), which would completely replace the bill’s current border security provisions. The proposal—nicknamed the RESULTS amendment—increases security funding in the bill and strengthens the bill’s security “triggers” by delaying the pathway to citizenship for newly legalized immigrants until border patrol has surveillance of the entire border and apprehends at least 90 percent of all attempted illegal entries.

David Bier, Immigration Policy Analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, congratulated the senator for his focus on security, but said the proposals would waste money without changing the legal immigration sections of the bill.

“The senator’s proposal would create a stronger political incentive to secure the border,” Bier said. “But the amendment fails to account for why so many people attempt to enter illegally. Without legal means to enter the United States, border patrol will continue to be overwhelmed by illegal crossings. The bill offers a yearly average of just 45,000 guest work visas over the next four years. In future years, the number could increase to 200,000 annually. But that is still hundreds of thousands fewer than what is needed to meet the border security targets.”

Bier said that the bill should connect border security to guest work visas. “The number of guest work visas should automatically rise in any year that border security fails to meet the 90 percent apprehension rate,” 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. It should always be less costly to enter this country legally than illegally. Sen. Cornyn’s efforts to drive up the costs of illegal immigration are a good start, but ultimately will only be successful in conjunction with reforms that cut red tape in the legal immigration process.”