No Enforcement at the Border or Internally Should Mean No Amnesty

Published on January 14th, 2013

By Joe Guzzardi
January 14, 2013

The southern border that separates Mexico from the United States remains wide open. In its most recent study, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office found that only 61 percent of aliens attempting to cross illegally have been stopped. Consequently, according to the GAO, an estimated 208,803 escaped capture. Half returned to Mexico but the other half, calculated the GAO, fled deep into the United States.

The GAO also condemned President Obama for his administration’s lack of progress to establish a barometer to measure how effectively the Border Patrol performs its job. Incongruously, the Obama administration reportedly spent approximately $18 billion on immigration-related enforcement but apparently cannot successfully patrol the border or keep aliens out of jobs unemployed Americans would willingly do.

What eventually becomes of the more than 104,000 illusive aliens that the GAO identified as surreptitiously infiltrating American society, no one can be sure. Some may be drug smugglers, others human traffickers and still others terrorists. But many aliens eventually gain employment.

Of the 11 to 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States, seven to eight million hold non-agriculture jobs. Since the majority of illegal immigrants have not earned a high school diploma their presence in the job market adversely impacts vulnerable unemployed Americans who also don’t have a high school education.

In the third quarter of 2012, the standard unemployment rate (referred to as U-3) for U.S.-born adults who have not completed high school was 18.5 percent. But using the broader unemployment measure, the so called U-6 rate that includes part-time workers and those who have not recently searched for work, the jobless rate for U.S.-born adults who have not completed high school was nearly 31 percent. Since President Obama took office in 2009, there has been no reduction in the numbers of working aliens even though 20 million Americans remain unemployed or under-employed.

Another troubling (non)-enforcement-related report was mostly buried. Written in May 2012 but released to the public in November, the Congressional Research Service gathered data from all the enforcement programs the federal government had access to during the Bush and Obama administrations to analyze how effectively their administrations used those tools. The CRS concluded that .06 percent of illegal aliens were apprehended on the job site. Stated another way, for every 1,601 employed illegal aliens, one was arrested on the job. These statistics were taken from 2008 which the CRS identified as the best enforcement year in either administration since 2000.

In addition to being troubling on their faces, the GAO and CRS reports will have future significance if the amnesty legislation President Obama promises to advance reaches Congress. The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act amnesty promised tighter border security and strong internal enforcement but failed to deliver either. Since then, amnesty skeptics have insisted that talks cannot proceed without evidence that the border is secure and that internal enforcement will be diligently carried out. The GAO and CRS reports prove that the administration has a long way to go before the amnesty debate begins. Realistically, no enforcement may mean no amnesty.


Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]

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