The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
May 22, 2007

Fact Sheet: Border Security and Immigration Reform Agreement Overcomes 1986 Mistakes
Bipartisan Proposal Requires Tough Border Security And Worksite Enforcement Measures

     Fact sheet In Focus: Immigration

The Bipartisan Border Security And Immigration Reform Agreement Addresses And Overcomes Failures Of The 1986 Immigration Reform And Control Act. The 1986 Act failed because it gave a complete pardon (amnesty) to 3 million illegal immigrants as part of an automatic path to citizenship, did not provide the resources necessary to secure the borders adequately, relied on an employer verification system with only limited capability to detect ID fraud, provided inadequate penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, and made no provisions to meet future labor needs of U.S. employers in a growing economy.

In Contrast, The Bipartisan Border Security And Immigration Reform Agreement:

1. Does not offer amnesty to illegal immigrants already here; 2. Contains much tougher border security triggers that must be in place and operational before the Z visa and temporary worker programs take effect; 3. Requires that a sophisticated Employment Eligibility Verification System (EEVS) capable of rooting out fraud be ready to process all new hires before the Z visa and temporary worker programs take effect; 4. Substantially increases penalties on employers for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants; and 5. Creates a temporary worker program to relieve pressure on the border and provide a lawful way to meet our economic needs.

1. No Amnesty

Illegal Immigrants Already Here Must Acknowledge That They Broke The Law And Pay A Fine. In order to obtain a Z visa granting temporary legal status, workers in the country before January 1, 2007, must acknowledge that they broke the law, pay a $1,000 fine, pass criminal background checks, remain employed, and maintain a clean record.

2. Strengthening Border Security

Tough Border Security Benchmarks Must Be Met Before The Z Visa And Temporary Worker Programs Go Into Effect. These triggers include constructing 370 miles of fencing and 200 miles of vehicle barriers at the border and finishing doubling the size of the Border Patrol since the President took office - a goal previously set by the President and already well on its way to achievement.

With Enhanced Enforcement, We Have Already Seen A Tremendous Change At The Border. The number of people apprehended for illegally crossing our Southern border is down by nearly 27 percent in 2007 from this point in 2006.

The 1986 Act Provided Only About 4,000 Agents For The Border Patrol. By contrast, we will have more than four times that number of Border Patrol agents in place before the Z visa and temporary worker programs go into effect. In addition, improvements in infrastructure and technology at the border make border enforcement more achievable now than it was 20 years ago. For example, today, we have in place:

3. Putting A Workable Employer Verification System In Place

An Employment Eligibility Verification System (EEVS) Must Be Ready To Process New Hires Before The Z Visa And Temporary Worker Programs Go Into Effect. Employers will be required to verify the work eligibility of all employees using the EEVS, and all workers will be required to present stronger and more readily verifiable identification documents.

4. Increasing Penalties For Employers Who Knowingly Hire Illegal Immigrants

Employers Who Hire Illegal Workers Will Face Stiff New Criminal And Civil Penalties. The maximum civil fine for hiring illegal workers will rise from the 1986 level of $2,000 to $5,000 for first offenders and from the 1986 level of $10,000 to $25,000 for three-time offenders. The maximum criminal penalty for a pattern or practice of hiring illegal workers will increase 25-fold, from $3,000 per alien to $75,000 per alien.

5. Creating A Temporary Worker Program

By Creating A Lawful And Orderly Channel For Foreign Workers To Come To America On A Temporary Basis, The Temporary Worker Program (TWP) Will Help Reduce The Number Of People Trying To Sneak Across The Border. The TWP will help meet our economic needs by allowing workers to enter the country legally on a temporary basis to fill jobs that Americans are not doing.

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