June 4, 2007

CBO: Immigration Bill Wll Fail On Most Counts

As CQ readers know, I have advised keeping an open mind and a close eye on the details. The immigration bill could have some benefit, if properly amended and loopholes closed. However, now the Washington Times has a report from the Congressional Budget Office that shows that the bill will fail -- and fail rather spectacularly (via Confederate Yankee):

The Senate's immigration bill will only reduce illegal immigration by about 25 percent a year, according to a new Congressional Budget Office report, Stephen Dinan will report Tuesday in The Washington Times.

The bill's new guest-worker program could lead to at least 500,000 more illegal immigrants within a decade, said the report from the CBO, which said in its official cost estimate that it assumes some future temporary workers will overstay their time in the plan, adding up to a half-million by 2017 and 1 million by 2027. ....

And in a blow to President Bush's timetable, the CBO said the "triggers" -- setting up the verification system, deploying 20,000 U.S. Border Patrol agents to duty and constructing hundreds of miles of fencing and vehicle barriers -- won't be met until 2010.

Those triggers must be met before the temporary worker program could begin, and Mr. Bush had hoped to have them completed about the time he leaves office in January 2009.

Any immigration bill has to succeed at two tasks: stop illegal immigration by securing the border, and reach a resolution of some kind for the millions of illegals already here. According to the CBO, this bill won't do either very well. All it does is reduce annual illegal immigration by 25% -- which is not nearly enough.

Why? Because without ending illegal immigration, we can't proceed with normalization. We will eventually build up a new base of people "living in the shadows," and it will eventually require another normalization effort. We will do nothing but kick the problem down the road once again.

That 25% reduction comes from the border security provisions in the bill, which appear to be a good start but not a complete solution. The reason for that is the border fence -- which only goes 370 miles in this bill. If the fence went longer, it might suffice for a solution. However, that would push off the triggers even further than the three years the CBO estimates they will take, even with the 25% solution, twice as long as advertised.

The bill's authors need to go back to the drawing board. We need solutions that carry a 95% success rate or better, not ones that leave three-quarters of the problem unsolved. We also need to get a solution that offers options that will show success in managing the system, not extend issues like visa enforcement where we have clearly failed for so long.


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Comments (31)

Posted by steve sturm | June 4, 2007 7:12 PM

Cap: when you say that a bill must address both securing the border and dealing with the illegals already in the country, are you doing so because of political realities (the democrats won't agree to anything regarding border security unless they get something on the illegals already here, and the republicans taking the opposite position?), or because of some sense that fairness, economics, or something else requires tackling both at the same time?

While I would agree that it makes no sense to 'legitimize' the illegals already here without upgrading border security as that would only ensure another 12 million illegals flowing into America over the next couple of years, I see no similar problem with an enforcement only package. We can certainly strive to close the border and really start to enforce the laws against employing illegals without having to do much, if anything, about the millions who came in without permission. As the expression goes, for those illegals who decide there's no longer any benefit in hanging around, they ought not let the door hit them in the rear on their way home.

And, for what it is worth, the CBO study won't amount to a hill of beans. Bush and the Democrats don't care (not that they wouldn't trumpet its findings had the CBO came to a different conclusion), nor is there likely a single Republican who will change his vote from yes to no based on this study. It would be nice to be wrong (really), but I'm betting dollars to donuts that the CBO study will not only not get any real press coverage, it will do nothing to affect the vote.

Posted by Ken | June 4, 2007 7:17 PM


Thank you.

Its nice to have a government agency confirm what evryone already knew: This bill is not about enforcement.

The Democrats knew that. Bush knew that. Most everyone in Washington DC knew that.

But we are uncivil because we resented being called stupid and bigoted and nativist and racist. Never again.

This party lost me for good

Posted by digitalintrigue | June 4, 2007 7:31 PM

Did we really need the CBO to explain this?

Posted by burt | June 4, 2007 7:48 PM

The CBO study is a white wash. We won't have 20,000 by 2010. We may not have 6,000 by 2010. We have been hiring like mad and only holding our own for more than a year since as many quit as were hired. The net result is that we have the same number, 6000, the experience level is down for a net loss of capability. The border patrol are not happy campers because of the low level of support they get from the administration, the DOJ and their management.

Posted by Nick | June 4, 2007 7:53 PM

The key to persuading illegals to leave this country is to go after employers. Besides building a credible barrier at the border, that's the only thing we need to do. A relatively few publicized prosecutions in each state will quickly convince employers not to risk a criminal record. Without jobs, illegals will be lining up for transportation out of the country.

Posted by Realist | June 4, 2007 7:59 PM

Just what will it take for you to understand that our rulers have no intention of securing the borders?

Viva la raza!

Viva la reconquista!

Viva El Presidente Jorge bin Jorge al-Bush!

Islam is a religion of peace.

Allahu akbar!

Posted by doriangrey | June 4, 2007 8:05 PM

Heh heh Well Ed, better to have you catch on late but while there is still time for a course correction rather than yell out…Helmsman what was that that just struck our portside…And hear back..Oh nothing Captain Smith just a little bit of ice…

Posted by patrick neid | June 4, 2007 8:20 PM

well, i do declare, as was said many times in "gone with the wind".

the fence is taking longer because it is being put up by different groups in different states. do you want the fence to cover the border in less than two years? turn the project over to combat engineers. if the president and congress tell everyone to get out of the way, the fence goes up in a heartbeat.

securing the border from the current invasion should be a military operation run by combat engineers, with national guard equipment and personnel taken from respective state highway departments. this fence goes up very quickly:


the only thing missing from that picture is the razor wire.

the fence issues that the CBO is talking about are the kind that hindered the san diego 14 mile fence which ended up taking seven years or more to build.

how pathetic have we become as a nation? we built almost 1700 miles of railroad--RAILROAD--the transcontinental railroad through some of the world's most difficult terrain while getting attacked by indians in less than five years.

Posted by Carol Herman | June 4, 2007 8:21 PM

Last night, Drudge tipped off his listeners that congress will, in fact, go ahead with this bill. "Because there's been a drop-off in complaint calls."

He also ran this as a headline on his blog.

While lots of people are on vacation. And, the donks will do everything they can to "slip this one under the rug." Alla Nafta. With Congress then letting all the states "hold the bag."

Why is Bush doing this? I think he sees the handwriting on the wall. That the GOP has been shattered. Too many bad picks, from Jimmy Carter "getting the Baptists" to give him their votes. To the length of time, now, Baker's had in DC! Where you might as well label the most successful lobbyists as the ones attached to his ass. Even in the cruel world of Irak; everything's been done to maximize "cash flow." And, change the way we do things in the military; to the current method. Of sending in young guys. Into very hostile territory. With oodles of money; to buy of the "fwends" of the Saud's. By now? I recognize the red checkered tablecloths. And, just wonder WHY is it out money? The Saud's can use us for this stuff?

Bush is an idiot. But also a very dangerous one. Since nothing's gonna stop him!

I'm glad Fred's entered the race. Because he can attract a lot of people who can't believe what's passing as "campaigns" ... with a bunch of people adapted to running with the "old tricks."

Can Bush be stopped here? How? He's got the cover that maximizes the donkey train. And, Bush is ON BOARD this one!

You wonder why?

Not me. His family intends to stay "strong" in the remains of the GOP; after the politicians get cut to ribbons by the body politic.

How will the donks run? Oh, they'll run as Blue Dogs. They may even spend time attacking Pelosi? Well? Why not? There's gotta be bloodshed to make politics "attractive," ya know? It's really not a religious eperience!

Can UNPOPULAR presidents do shit? Sure. Look at what LBJ claimed. Then, Nixon. Then, Carter. Who screwed up on the diplomatic stage BIG TIME.

So why not think Bush is doing just what he wants, now? He doesn't have much of a legacy, left. But there's money in pushing through what he calls "diversity." As if we're not the most diverse country on earth!

Should be interesting to see this one play out.

Reminds me, how Drudge used to go after the Hollywood moguls, for "starring" Jenifer Anison in ANYTHING! But ya know what? The garbage they make here eventually sells in Europe. It's not as if they'd learn much; since money, when it shoots out at speeds approaching fire hoses; usually doesn't make the people who spend it, smart.

By the way, there's not gonna be any teeth in the bill. There will be no need for compliance. Perhaps, we'll just do these things every ten years? Right after we take a census.

No. I can't believe this stuff.

But then, I can't believe what we've done to textbooks, either.

At least it takes reading and writing skills to participate on the Net! And, yes, folks. The Net has a NEW REACH. Glad, too, that Fred's gonna test it out. Nothing is gonna stop Bush. Except the clock running out.

Oh. And, he HATES conservatives! Do you know why? He thinks the conservatives are responsible for his lousy presidential grades.

While congress? They're just like an ordinary whore house, ya know? Men are gonna go in and do business; even if they grow pimples on their privates, afterwards.

If it wasn't for the Net, you wouldn't even know that there were angry people STILL all over the map, hating this "new" package. This week? Tests the senate. Hardly likely the GOP has anything to use to stop this one. Can't derail it. And, you've got to suffer the fools who've already climbed on board.

Only ONE THING IS DOWN! The money.

Politicians like to get money.

And, that's what's down. Imagine if Fred can tap into that!

Posted by Joe Doe | June 4, 2007 8:21 PM

I bet money that on top of these "working" immigrants, we will get another 100K per year of "political refugees" - to go with the global fart efforts. Just wait and see - the idea would be to counter-balance the Spanish influence once is out of control - what better than representatives of the religion of peace?

The Bush legacy - not Irak, but America herself.

Posted by charles price | June 4, 2007 8:37 PM

CAN SOME Tell me how to ask Mexico to recognize English as Second . Or maybe how to apply to the U.S. for state hood. or we could protest in mexico for economical reforms so we can a mutual uniform welfare program.

Posted by SkyWatch | June 4, 2007 8:57 PM

I agree,lets just shut the border from illegal entry and up legal immigration. However, know one is thinking about how we need to be careful and not end up with a new Hugo Chaves on are southern border by alienating Mexico.

Posted by Angry Dumbo | June 4, 2007 8:59 PM

Some say that enforcement of immigration laws is racist. Yet somehow the Mexican government is not racist although it has militarized its southern border. Therefore for the United States to seek a solution to the problem of illegal immigration is to first recognize that illegal immigration is a problem and to seek a solution to the problem is racist in a uniquely American "white guilt" way.

The bill is genius because it brushes aside all those nasty old immigration laws (not to mention that fence) and replaces them with a set of laws that are entirely unworkable. Meanwhile the bill grants legal status to those who are here illegally regardless of whether they seek citizenship! Neat trick, these newly minted "immigrants" get to decide if they want to pay into social security or remain "in the shadows". (I for one would really appreciate some shade.) : ))

Anyway, after the old immigration laws (and that nasty fence) are brushed aside, the new unenforceable law means nobody in America is racist. We already know that Mexico is not racist.


Posted by RBMN | June 4, 2007 9:44 PM

If a 100-ft. fence spanned every inch of both the Mexican and Canadian borders, with an agent posted every 10-ft, it still only stops half of all the illegals. Half of the them came in legally on a visa and "forgot" to leave. That's the reason for the forge-proof IDs and the instant check.

Posted by poodlemom | June 4, 2007 10:07 PM

DC just doesn't get it; we don't believe them and we don't trust them!! Until we SEE the border being closed, businesses being fined and illegals being rounded up and shipped back no "comprehensive" bill will get passed.

I live in NE Pa., there are no crops to be picked or chickens to be plucked in my neck of the woods so it's difficult to see why we have so many hispanics moving into the area (unless it's to stay under the radar). Also, Hazleton is about 35 miles from my home; Mayor Barletta has been roundly criticized for his attempts to enforce the law (critics from outside the area, not within) so this issue isn't going away.

My family and friends are a cross section of the GOP and Dems, although the Dems are uniformly "blue dog" Dems; to a person they want the illegals out....this issue is really crossing political lines here.

I am barely a second generation citizen; my paternal grandparents immigrated from South Wales. My grandfather and uncles all worked the anthracite coal mines. My father was the only child in his family born here in the States; he spoke just enough Welsh to be able to sing the hymns in church, but he couldn't do much in the way of conversation because my grandparents insisted that all the children speak English only!!

I have a cousin who was born in Wales; he suffered from polio as a child and needed crutches and braces to walk. When his family got to Ellis Isle he was almost denied admittance to the country because it was feared he would be unable to work when he got older, plus there was still a lot of fear of polio in those days. He was years beyond the flare-up that caused his paralysis, but it was a big hurdle in those days. It took the intervention of a local politician (Arthur James, son of a Welsh coal miner who later became a Republican governor) to clear the way for my cousin. My cousin became an engineer and was able to take care of himself and his family quite nicely.

NE Pa. is home to decendants of Welsh, Irish, Italian,
Polish immigrants. There are many current immigrants from the former Czech Republic, Kosovo,
Albania etc., they all came the legal route. These folks are adamant in their objection to those who have entered the country illegally.....there is no sympathy to be had here.

Sorry to run on so long; this is a very passionate issue in my corner of the world.

Posted by Bill Faith | June 4, 2007 10:17 PM

The best thing to do with the proposed bill is to burn it and scatter the ashes over Mexico, then elect a President who believes we have the right to enforce our borders.  His names Fred. I added a link to my 2006.06.04 "No Illegal Left Behind" Roundup.

Posted by patrick neid | June 4, 2007 10:19 PM


so what if the fence only stops half. now it stops no one and one million per year stroll across the border. all the deported criminals simply keep their old apartments and come back after a short vacation home to see their fellow gang bangers also on vacation.

border enforcement is simply the first step. but it must be THE first step before all the things you want. we have had it backwards for 40 years with 20 millions illegals to prove it.

Posted by richard_223 | June 4, 2007 10:25 PM


I am a former resident of Hazleton, now living in Minnesota. Those Coal Crackers are a tough bunch, resisting illegal immigaration when the federal gov'ment refuses to do its mandate.

Posted by Rose | June 4, 2007 10:56 PM

So! What's the REAL deal with this bill?

Have they been searching desperately for the issue that will cause a Civil War, or something?

And now they think they have found it, they are trying to see if they can make us do something that will give them an excuse to institute Martial Law, or something???

Inquiring minds want to know.

Posted by RBMN | June 4, 2007 11:05 PM

Re: patrick neid at June 4, 2007 10:19 PM

I'm certainly not against the fence. I'm just a little perplexed as to why nobody seems interested in the other half of the equation. That seems odd to me.

It's as if the bow and stern of a boat are both leaking, and people say "fix the stern, and then maybe we'll talk about fixing the bow too."

Posted by Rose | June 4, 2007 11:26 PM

While I would agree that it makes no sense to 'legitimize' the illegals already here without upgrading border security as that would only ensure another 12 million illegals flowing into America over the next couple of years, I see no similar problem with an enforcement only package.

There is no benefit PERIOD! to legalizing these illegals!

At the rate they have been increasing this process, next time they do it, they'll legalize a matching number of illegals to the USA Citizens, should the USA survive this round of swamping the boat.

Frankly, I don't think America can make it through this, in one piece.

incerely, and mostly for reasons those inthe interior cannot understand of what we near the border regions can no longer even explain to you - it would be like explaining marriage to a 1yr old child. If you haven't experienced anything like i t, you won't believe us, and you wouldn't have any point of reference, either.

I remember telling some folks about an abusive woman they knew, but they 'd never seen anything but the red carpet treatment from her, personally. they acted like we were insane. Finally, we loaded them in vehicles and took them out and showed them the physical manifestation of the latest demonstration.

We've never had to explain anything to them again. But they nearly threw up at the sight of it, as full realization began to sink in.

I assure you, you cannot afford to CONTEMPLATE legalizing all these illegals, and expect to maintain the kind of lifestyle you have now.

Take it seriously.

Because having to take action later isn't going to be nearly as pleasant as the effort to gain your politician's ears, now, will be.

I've said it before - it is an understatement of unbelieveable proportions, you can be dismissive when the doctor tells you how to care for your diabetic leg and foot, and do whatever you feel like.
But the day he tells you, "This way to Surgery, we'll have to cut off that gangrenous leg..."

Then you won't be so smugly complacent about your politicians' irrational disregard for your opinion.

That claustrophobic, boring time in a bariatric chamber, watching your blood sugar, taking your medicine, bathing that leg in medicated soakings... it will seem a sheer pleasure compared to that surgery and the after effects.

Posted by Rose | June 5, 2007 12:01 AM

The key to persuading illegals to leave this country is to go after employers. Besides building a credible barrier at the border, that's the only thing we need to do. A relatively few publicized prosecutions in each state will quickly convince employers not to risk a criminal record. Without jobs, illegals will be lining up for transportation out of the country.

Posted by: Nick at June 4, 2007 7:53 PM


If NOTHING ELSE can show you the true nature of the Red Carpet for ILLEGALS in the USA, it should be THIS "IMMIGRATION" BILL - the KEY is the POLITICIANS!

Arrest a few politicians for abuse of power, for their refusal to secure the border according to the mandate of their particular office, and you will see the illegals begin to flee, when they know they no linger have POLITICAL COVER for their criminal behavior.

EMPLOYERS don't make employees have respect for Law, or have disrespect for Law - POLITICIANS do!

THIS bill shows the supreme disrespect of the politicians for the CITIZENS, and teaches the illegal aliens the same disrespect for us.

Posted by George B | June 5, 2007 12:10 AM

Are there any real citizens out their calling for a big comprehensive immigration reform bill? Give me some incremental improvements instead.

1) Just build the damn fence. Tangible progress.

2) No English...no green card. To stay permanently, immigrants need to at least learn English.

3) Require employers with more than 500 employees to make a good faith effort not to hire illegal aliens. Use private credit reporting data to determine if government documents, the job application, and private data are consistent. Huge fines for companies that hire new illegals with obviously fake social security numbers.

Show me some real progress first and I'll consider increasing the number of immigrants that can get a green card plus some kind of guest worker program. However, granting any "front of the line" advantage to adults who entered the US illegally is totally unacceptable.

Posted by Rose | June 5, 2007 1:53 AM

...To the length of time, now, Baker's had in DC! ...

...I'm glad Fred's entered the race. ...

...Because he can attract a lot of people who can't believe what's passing as "campaigns" ... with a bunch of people adapted to running with the "old tricks." ...

Posted by: Carol Herman at June 4, 2007 8:21 PM


Fred --- Baker's Protege...McCain's BEST BUD... who voted for McCain Feingold and doesn't regret it, even if it doesn't work exactly like they thought(sic) it would...

No OLD DIRTY TRICKS??? ... VOTED THAT CLINTON WAS NOT GUILTY OF PERJURY, one of only FOUR GOP Senators to vote NOT GUILTY for Clinton on that issue...

Yeah, sure. Fred is a real winner!


Posted by Angry Dumbo | June 5, 2007 5:07 AM

McCain/Kennedy is like a condom, sounds great, but you know your kid ain't going to use it.

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | June 5, 2007 5:45 AM

Attention diminishing, says Drudge, and opposition dwindling? Well, maybe some people need another nudge.

Remind your Senator that you are still paying attention.

Posted by Roy E | June 5, 2007 6:44 AM

What strikes me as most offensive about this 'comprehensive immigration reform' bill is that to its proponents, legalizing the millions of illegal aliens seems to be the goal and that border security is a concession that must be made in order to achieve that end .

Border and law enforcement measures all come across as incredibly insincere and disingenuous.
Perhaps that's because they are.

The idea that our gov't officials will grow the backbone necessary to enforce any existing or proposed law is rather laughable at this point.

What a sad, pathetic state this nation has come to.

Posted by Jim | June 5, 2007 7:36 AM

Ed says: "We need solutions that carry a 95% success rate or better..."

San Diego, pre installation of 14 mile fence: 100,000 illegals.

San Diego, post-installation of 14 mile fence: 5,000 illegals.

There's your 95% solution.

A fence "only stopping half of them" is a lie. Stop lying please.

Also, fence proponents like ME, know damn well that a fence is only ONE of many prongs in solving this immigration mess. Why do people insist on this incessant bulls--t "either or" nonsense......like responding to a fence advocate by saying...."what we really need to do is to go after employers." No sh--t, Sherlock. There are multiple prongs....

1. Build the damn fence. All 700+ miles. FIRST. Make it a federal project. AND....
2. Go after employers. PROSECUTE some of them. The rest will get the picture. Yes, I'll be HAPPY to pay 50 cents more for a head of lettuce and $5 bucks more for my hotel room, while it gets sorted out. The market will come back into balance and achieve equilibrium. AND....
3. Gut and reinvent the current LEGAL immigration system. Why is there an 8 year wait list for qualified, educated, and desirable immigrants? AND.....
4. Institute a guest worker program with computer chip technology national IDs. AND...
5. Eliminate the anchor baby rights. Effective 9.5 months from the passage of the bill - no need to penalize somebody who is already pregnant. ETC...that's a start...there's your 95% solution, Ed.
5. THEN we'll talk about a HUMANE way to legitimize the remains of the 12 million still in the shadows - and we don't need to even talk about deportation..

But I'm just p--ing in to the wind. Common sense is DEAD. My party has abandoned me. And I'll stop here, lest I become unacceptably 'uncivil' for the gentile WSJ Republicans firmly in control of what was once my party.

Every other nation in the world is allowed to proudly, firmly, and forcefully establish and maintain its nationality and sovereignty and control its borders.....except the United States of America. Those of us who want the same privileges for our nation as, e.g., Mexico has for its southern borders, are 'nativists' 'bigots' and 'racists.' Of course, we're told who we are and what we are in a very "civil" fashion, by our betters, thank goodness.

Posted by quickjustice | June 5, 2007 8:27 AM

I called three hundred New York Republicans last night to get them out to vote for a special election we're having today. Ninety percent of them told me they were furious with the national GOP and the President on this issue.

If I were a Republican in the Congress, I'd panic.

Posted by Kerrie Rushton - WH OSI | June 5, 2007 5:17 PM

The White House appreciates the chance to respond:

First, regarding the 25% reduction the Washington Times mentions. CBO admitted predicting the impact of improved border security and employment verification was "uncertain." In fact, they also noted that, while past reform acts have failed, this bill is different because it "commits significant resources," sets up an employment verification system, and institutes a temporary worker program so the impact on illegal immigration "could be large."

On the budgetary side, CBO points out Increased revenue generated by additional tax and Social Security payments from immigrants under the bill will offset any estimated increases in mandatory spending, such as emergency Medicaid, and produce a net fiscal surplus of $25.6 billion over 10 years, not counting discretionary spending.

Overall, CBO estimates this year's bill would produce a net fiscal deficit of only $17.8 billion over 10 years, less than $2 billion a year. Much of this cost can be attributed to increased resources for border security and interior enforcement – nearly 95 percent of the increases in discretionary spending are for increased border security, State and local grants, and other enforcement-related programs.

Posted by PG | June 5, 2007 10:09 PM


See you 10 years from now on the same subject - of course the difference will be we would converse in Spanish, and the next wave will be - let me see, first one 2 mills, second one 18 mills, third one probably ... 100 mills?

2017 - the Congress commits 100 trillions $ for border protection (of course by then a gallon of milk will be 1000 bucks - while inflation just 2.075). Sure. By then, the rich will be too busy moving to Asia gated communities proving ineffective.

God Bless America! ( ... and punish its enemies!)