Broken Promises on Immigration Enforcement

By CIS on July 26, 2013

Washington, D.C. (June 26, 2013) – The core criticism to S.744 has been that it places amnesty before enforcement. The concern is that once the illegal population has been legalized, it will be highly unlikely that the bill's promises of enforcement will be honored. The Center for Immigration Studies finds the long track record of broken promises regarding immigration enforcement suggests this concern is warranted. Here are highlights from a long list of those broken promises:

1986 – Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which for the first time prohibited the employment of illegal aliens. This was part of a package that included amnesty for long-term illegal aliens who passed criminal checks, paid fees, and took classes on English language and U.S. civics and history. The promised enforcement started weakly and petered out. It got so bad than in 2004, only 3 employers in the entire nation were fined for hiring illegal aliens. An estimated 7-8 million illegal immigrants continue to hold jobs.

1996 – In the wake of the first World Trade Center bombing, Congress passed a wide-ranging enforcement law, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. Among its provisions was a requirement to develop an automated check-in/check-out system for foreign visitors, so the government could identify those who stayed past the time they were supposed to depart. Congress mandated such a system five more times, including in the USA Patriot Act, which required a biometric system (using fingerprints or photo recognition, for instance), in line with the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. No such system yet exists.

2005 – The REAL ID Act required that state driver's licenses meet certain minimum standards to be acceptable for federal purposes, such as boarding airplanes. The standards included requiring proof of legal presence in the United States before issuing a license; this is an important immigration enforcement objective, because the driver's license is essential to illegal aliens seeking to embed themselves in American society. The original deadline for state compliance was 2008, later postponed to 2011, then 2013, and now 2017. It seems likely the deadline will be extended yet again, permitting several states to continue issuing licenses to illegal aliens.

2006 – The Secure Fence Act of 2006 required “at least 2 layers of reinforced fencing” along a total of roughly 650 miles of specifically designated stretches of the Mexican border. So far, less than 40 miles of such double-layered fencing have been built. The remainder is a mix of single-layer "pedestrian" fencing (designed to prevent people from infiltrating on foot) and vehicle barriers, which are low fences intended only to prevent trucks from driving across the border.

View the Senate bill, CIS Senate testimony and commentary at:…