Enforcement of Immigration Laws Sag Under Bush, Group Says
Washington, DC – A new report by Third Way finds that enforcement of immigration laws during the first five years of the Bush Administration is down 30% from the last five years of the Clinton Administration, despite an increase in border personnel. The report, entitled Mission Accomplished II, estimates that it would take 109 years to deport all of the 12 million illegal immigrants currently in the country under the Bush enforcement rate.
“The decline in immigration enforcement has been steady, dramatic, and longstanding,” said Jim Kessler, Vice President for Policy and a co-author of the report with Policy Advisor Michael Earls. “This may not be the cause of our illegal immigration crisis, but it has certainly contributed to it.”
The report compared apprehensions, expulsions, and workplace sanctions from fiscal years 1996 to 2000 (the last 5 years of the Clinton Administration) and 2001 to 2005 (the first five years of the Bush Administration and the latest years in which data are complete and publicly available). The study finds that under Bush:
- Illegal immigrants apprehended in the U.S. declined by approximately 470,000 per year, or 28%.
- Expulsions fell by approximately 520,000 per year, or 30%.
- Apprehensions along the Southwest border declined by 350,000 per year, or 29%.
- 84% of worksite arrests consist of sweeps of undocumented workers, as compared to sanctions against the employers that hire them.
The Third Way authors acknowledge that “even if enforcement was maintained at the Clinton levels, the size of the illegal immigration problem is no match for an enforcement-only solution.”
“The scope of the problem calls for a comprehensive solution that toughens our approach at the border and also creates a sensible path to citizenship for those who are already here and working,” said Kessler. “The bill currently under debate in the Senate takes that practical approach.”
The report notes that there are indications that enforcement levels started to increase in 2006. “Preliminary data show a bump in enforcement over the past year, but it nowhere near comes close to the steep fall-off over the first five years of the Bush Administration,” says Earls.
Contact: Matt Bennett (202) 775-3768 x212