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Fact Sheet: Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Improving Worksite Enforcement

June 01, 2006

Today, President Bush Discussed His Plan For Comprehensive Immigration Reform. One of the most important tests of immigration reform will be the enforcement of our immigration laws in the interior of our country. The Administration is taking action to improve worksite enforcement - and expects businesses to help.

  • Congress Is Now Moving Forward With Legislation To Reform Our Immigration System. The House started this debate by passing a bill that focuses on border security and interior enforcement. Now the Senate has passed a comprehensive bill that also includes a temporary worker program and a plan to resolve the status of illegal immigrants who are already in our country. Working out the differences between the House and Senate bills will require effort and compromise on both sides. Yet the difficulty of this task is no excuse for avoiding it.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Must Hold Employers To Account For The Workers They Hire

Funding For Immigration Enforcement Inside Our Country Has Increased By 42 Percent Since The President Took Office, And Last Year, The President Signed A Bill Doubling Federal Resources For Worksite Enforcement. We have also launched law enforcement task forces in 11 major cities to dismantle criminal rings that produce fake documents. All these efforts are helping us enforce our immigration laws at the worksite.

The Federal Government Has A Responsibility To Ensure That Businesses Have A Clear And Reliable Way To Check Work Documents. Today there is an entire underground industry dedicated to producing fake IDs and fraudulent Social Security numbers. Under current law, the immigration enforcement agents at the Department of Homeland Security are not informed when the Social Security Administration discovers a mismatch between a worker and the Social Security Number he or she provides. We need to address these problems and ensure that our agents can enforce the law.

  • Basic Pilot Is Helping Businesses Comply With The Law. Basic Pilot is a voluntary, online verification system that allows employers to confirm the eligibility of new hires by checking the information they provide against Federal databases.
    • When President Bush Took Office, Basic Pilot Was Available In Only Six States, And Today It Is Available Nationwide. The President's FY 2007 budget requests $111 million to expand Basic Pilot.
    • Congress Needs To Make This Program Mandatory And Provide Homeland Security With The Funding And Authority To Make It Work. Basic Pilot is still optional, and most employers do not participate. Both the House and Senate immigration bills would require employers to use Basic Pilot.
  • To Help Combat Document Fraud, President Bush Has Proposed The Creation Of A New Identification Card For Every Legal Foreign Worker. This card should use biometric technology, such as digital fingerprints, to help make it tamper-proof. With a tamper-proof card, American employers would know that a foreign job applicant is who he says he is - and is in our country legally. A tamper-proof card would be a vital tool to enforce the law, and it must be part of any comprehensive immigration reform.
  • Improving Enforcement Of Our Immigration Laws Also Requires Stiffening The Penalties For Violating Those Laws. President Bush proposes to increase penalties for employers who violate the law - and to make fines even larger for employers who repeatedly violate the law.

American Businesses Have A Clear Responsibility To Obey The Law. Businesses that knowingly employ illegal workers are undermining our laws, violating the public trust, and contributing to the problem of illegal immigration - and the Administration will not tolerate it.

  • By Cracking Down On Document Fraud, The Administration Will Help Honest Employers Follow The Law And Will Punish Those Who Violate It. With an effective verification system and a tamper-proof card, employers would have the tools they need to check the work status of job applicants, and there would be no excuse for hiring an illegal worker. And with an effective verification system and a tamper-proof card, illegal workers would have less incentive to cross the border in the first place.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Must Help Us Secure Our Borders

President Bush Has Called On Congress To Provide Funding For Dramatic Improvements In Manpower And Technology At The Border. Since the President took office, we have increased funding for border security by 66 percent, and expanded the Border Patrol from about 9,000 to 12,000 agents. By the end of 2008, we will increase the number of Border Patrol officers by an additional 6,000 - doubling the size of the Border Patrol since the President took office. At the same time, we will construct high-tech fences in urban corridors and build new patrol roads and barriers in rural areas. We will create a virtual fence that employs motion sensors, infrared cameras, and unmanned aerial vehicles to detect and prevent illegal crossings.

This Month, National Guard Units Will Deploy To The Border To Set Up The Headquarters That Will Help Coordinate Guard Operations In Support Of The Border Patrol. These forces are the first of up to 6,000 Guard members who will assist the Border Patrol by operating surveillance systems, analyzing intelligence, installing fences and vehicle barriers, building patrol roads, and providing training. Guard units will not be involved in direct law enforcement activities, and as new Border Patrol agents and new technologies come online, the number of Guard forces will be reduced.

  • The Federal Government Is Now Working To Conclude Formal Agreements With California, Arizona, New Mexico, And Texas That Will Define The Role And Responsibilities Of National Guard Units Deploying To The Southern Border. President Bush will continue to work closely with the Governors of these States to secure our border. He has also spoken with the chief of the National Guard Bureau, Lieutenant General Steven Blum, about the work the Guard will be doing to improve border security.

We Will Increase Federal Funding For State And Local Authorities Assisting The Border Patrol On Targeted Enforcement Missions. We will give State and local authorities the specialized training they need to help Federal officers apprehend and detain illegal immigrants. This will help during the period of transition as new Border Patrol agents and new technologies come online.

We Will End The Practice Of "Catch And Release" Along The Southern Border.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Must Create A Temporary Worker Program That Helps Us Secure The Border

A Temporary Worker Program Would Create A Legal Path For Foreign Workers To Enter Our Country In An Orderly Way, For A Limited Period Of Time. Above all, a temporary worker program would add to our security by making certain we know who is in our country and why they are here.

A Temporary Worker Program Would Meet The Legitimate Needs Of American Employers, And It Would Give Honest Immigrants A Way To Provide For Their Families While Respecting The Law.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Must Address The Reality That Millions Of Illegal Immigrants Are Here Already

The President Opposes Amnesty. Amnesty would be unfair to those who are here lawfully, and it would invite further waves of illegal immigration. There is a rational middle ground between granting an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant and a program that requires every illegal immigrant to leave.

The President Believes Illegal Immigrants Who Have Roots In Our Country And Want To Stay Should Have To Pay A Meaningful Penalty For Breaking The Law, Pay Their Taxes, Learn English, And Work In A Job For A Number Of Years. People who meet these conditions should eventually be permitted to apply for citizenship like other foreign workers, but approval would not be automatic - and they will have to wait in line behind those who played by the rules and followed the law.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Must Honor The Great American Tradition Of The Melting Pot

The Success Of Our Country Depends Upon Helping Newcomers Assimilate Into Our Society And Embrace Our Common Identity As Americans. When immigrants assimilate and advance in our society, they realize their dreams, they renew our spirit, and they add to the unity of America.

English Is The Key To Unlocking The Opportunity Of America. English allows newcomers to go from picking crops to opening a grocery, from cleaning offices to running offices, from a life of low-paying jobs to a diploma, a career, and a home of their own.

George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Improving Worksite Enforcement Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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