For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 28, 2005
Fact Sheet: Securing America Through Immigration Reform
Securing America Through Immigration Reform
Today's Presidential Action:
Today, President Bush Outlined The Strategy To Enhance America's Homeland
Security Through Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Addressing the Customs
and Border Protection agents stationed in southern Arizona, the President
discussed the strategy to secure the border, prevent illegal crossings, and
strengthen enforcement of immigration laws. The President also proposed to
take pressure off the border by creating a Temporary Worker Program that
meets the economy's demands while rejecting amnesty for those who break
Securing The Border Is Essential To Securing The Homeland. Since he took
office, the President has increased funding for border security by 60
percent. Border agents have apprehended and sent home more than 4.5
million people coming into the country illegally - including about 350,000
with criminal records. The U.S. border must be open to trade and tourism -
and closed to criminals, drug dealers, and terrorists.
The President Will Work With Congress To Pass And Sign Into Law
Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Comprehensive immigration reform is a
top priority for the Administration. Already, Congress is making great
strides and has a chance to move forward on a strategy to enforce
immigration laws, secure America, and uphold the Nation's deepest values.
The President will continue working with Congress so that he can sign a
comprehensive immigration reform bill into law in 2006.
The President's Strategy For Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Comprehensive Immigration Reform Begins With Securing The Border. To
secure the border, the President is pursuing a three-part plan.
First, The U.S. Will Return Every Illegal Entrant Caught Crossing The
Southwest Border - With No Exceptions. More than 85 percent of apprehended
illegal immigrants are from Mexico, and most are immediately escorted back
across the border within 24 hours. To prevent them from trying to cross
again, the Federal government is using interior repatriation whereby
Mexican illegal entrants are returned to their hometowns, making it more
difficult for them to attempt another crossing. This approach is showing
great promise. In a West Arizona desert pilot program, nearly 35,000
illegal immigrants were returned to Mexico through interior repatriation,
and only about 8 percent turned up trying to cross the border in that
sector again. The Administration is working to expand interior
repatriation to ensure that when those who violate the country's
immigration laws are sent home, they stay home.
The Administration Is Ending The Practice Of "Catch And Release." Because
detention facilities lack bed space, most non-Mexican illegal immigrants
apprehended are released and directed to return for a court appearance.
However, 75 percent fail to show. Last year, only 30,000 of the 160,000
non-Mexicans caught coming across our Southwest border were sent home.
Addressing this problem, the President has signed legislation increasing
the number of beds in detention facilities by more than 10 percent over the
next year. The Federal government is also using "expedited removal" to
detain, place into streamlined judicial proceedings, and deport non-Mexican
illegal immigrants in an average of 32 days - almost three times faster
than the usual procedure. Last year, more than 20,000 non-Mexicans caught
crossing the border between Laredo and Tucson were deported using expedited
removal. The use of expedited removal is now being expanded across the
entire Southwest border. When illegal immigrants know they will be caught
and sent home, they will be less likely to cross illegally in the first
The Administration Is Taking Further Steps To Accelerate The Removal
Process. The U.S. is pressing foreign governments to take back their
citizens more promptly, while streamlining bureaucracy and increasing the
number of flights carrying illegal immigrants home. Testing these steps,
"Operation Texas Hold 'Em" along the Rio Grande Valley of the Texas Border
recently resulted in Brazilian illegal immigration dropping by 90 percent
in the Rio Grande Valley - and by 50 percent across the entire border.
These efforts are helping change a policy of "catch and release" to a
policy of "catch and return."
Second, The Administration Will Work With Congress To Reform Immigration
Laws. The President is seeking to eliminate senseless rules that require
the government to release illegal immigrants if their home countries do not
take them back in a set period of time. Among those the government has
been forced to release are murderers, rapists, child molesters, and other
violent criminals. The President is also working with Congress to address
the cycle of endless litigation that clogs immigration courts, rewards
illegal behavior, and delays justice for immigrants with legitimate claims.
Lawsuits and red tape must not stand in the way of protecting the American
Third, The Federal Government Will Act To Stop People From Illegally
Crossing The Border In The First Place. The Administration is increasing
manpower, technology, and infrastructure at the Nation's borders, and
integrating these resources in innovative ways.
Increasing Manpower. Since 2001, 1,900 Border Patrol agents have been
added, and the President has signed legislation allowing the addition of
another 1,000 agents in the year ahead. When the hiring is completed, the
Border Patrol will have been enlarged by about 3,000 agents - from about
9,500 when the President took office to about 12,500 next year. This is an
increase of more than 30 percent.
Deploying New Technology. The Administration is giving Border Patrol
agents the tools to expand their reach and effectiveness including unmanned
aerial vehicles (UAVs) and infrared cameras. In Tucson, agents using UAVs
to patrol the border have improved their interception of illegal immigrants
and drugs on the border. Legislation signed by the President is providing
$139 million to further upgrade technology and bring a more unified,
systematic approach to border enforcement.
Constructing Physical Barriers To Entry. The President has signed
legislation providing $70 million to install and improve protective
infrastructure across the border. In rural areas, the government is
constructing new patrol roads to give agents better access to the border
and new vehicle barriers to keep illegal immigrants from driving across.
In urban areas, the government is expanding fencing to shut down human
smuggling corridors. The Administration recently authorized the completion
of a 14-mile barrier near San Diego. Once held up by litigation, this
project is vital to helping border agents do their jobs and make those who
live near the border more secure.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform Requires Improved Enforcement Of
Immigration Laws Within The United States. Catching and deporting illegal
immigrants along the border is only part of protecting the American people.
Our immigration laws must be enforced throughout America.
The Federal Government Is Improving Worksite Enforcement. The President
has signed legislation that more than doubles the resources dedicated to
worksite enforcement. The government is placing a special focus on
enforcement at critical infrastructure. This year, Operation Rollback -
the largest worksite enforcement case in American history - resulted in the
arrest of hundreds of illegal immigrants, criminal convictions against a
dozen employers, and a multi-million dollar payment from one of America's
largest businesses. Worksite enforcement is critical to the success of
To Help Businesses Comply With Immigration Laws, The Government Is
Addressing Document Fraud. Even the most diligent employers find it
difficult to spot forged employment documents and verify workers' legal
status. So the Administration is expanding the Basic Pilot program
enabling businesses to screen the employment eligibility of new hires
against Federal records. Since 2001, this program has expanded from only
six states to now being available nationwide. The Administration will work
with Congress to continue to improve employment verification.
The President Has Committed The Resources Necessary To Enforce Immigration
Laws. Since 2001, the Administration has increased funding for interior
enforcement by 44 percent; increased the number of immigration and customs
investigators by 14 percent; and new funding will allow for an additional
400 immigration enforcement agents and 250 criminal investigators. These
skilled officers are getting results. In Arizona alone, 2,300 people have
been prosecuted for smuggling drugs, guns, and illegal immigrants across
the border. Operation Community Shield has resulted in the arrest of
nearly 1,400 illegal immigrant gang members - including hundreds of members
of violent gangs like "MS-13." Since the creation of the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS), agents have apprehended nearly 27,000 illegal
As Part Of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, The President Has Proposed The
Creation Of A New Temporary Worker Program. To match foreign workers with
American employers for jobs that no American is willing to take, temporary
workers will be able to register for legal status for a fixed time period
and then be required to return home. This plan meets the needs of a
growing economy, allows honest workers to provide for their families while
respecting the law, and relieves pressure on the border. By reducing the
flow of illegal immigrants, law enforcement can focus on those who mean
this country harm. To improve worksite enforcement, the plan creates
tamper-proof I.D. cards for every legal temporary worker.
A Temporary Worker Program Would Not Provide Amnesty. The program does not
create an automatic path to citizenship or provide amnesty. The President
opposes amnesty because rewarding those who break the law would encourage
more illegal entrants and increase pressure on the border. A Temporary
Worker Program, by contrast, would promote legal immigration and decrease
pressure on the border. The President supports increasing the annual
number of green cards, but for the sake of justice and security, the
President will not sign an immigration bill that includes amnesty.
By Reforming Immigration Laws, The United States Will Preserve The Promise
Of America. Immigrants play a vital role in strengthening American
democracy. This is a land in which foreigners who respect the laws are
welcomed as contributors to American culture - not feared as threats. The
United States has been strengthened by generations of immigrants who became
Americans through patience, hard work, and assimilation. Like generations
of immigrants that have come before them, every new citizen has an
obligation to learn this Nation's customs and values. At the same time,
America will fulfill its obligation to give each citizen a chance to
realize the American dream. By enforcing immigration laws, the Federal
government is protecting the promise of a tolerant, welcoming America and
preserving opportunity for all.
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