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Revised Senate bill could cut illegal immigration in half

The Congressional Budget Office, after analyzing a newly revised Senate immigration reform bill, estimates that, if the provisions in the bill are implemented the country will see half as many unauthorized immigrants crossing our borders annually. This CBO review comes after analysis of a prior version of the bill, one that likely would have yielded only about a 25 percent reduction in unauthorized immigration.

The immigration bill was originally drafted by a group of Senators known as the "Gang of Eight" and amended at the behest of Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and John Hoeven (R-ND). In addition to providing desperately needed funds to procure technology like sophisticated cameras, drone patrols and sensors to shore up holes in the border itself, the $38 billion earmarked for the U.S. Border Patrol will also allow staff levels to double, sending a flood of new agents to the areas along the border where suspected unauthorized immigration activities are occurring.

Critics of the bill fear that it will, like prior immigration reform attempts, merely end up providing amnesty to millions of unauthorized immigrants already in the country without implementing any solutions to help end the wave of those crossing the border without valid legal documents. Other critics fear that the new proposal doesn't go far enough to stop unauthorized immigration, arguing that even cutting the problem in half still leaves open the possibility that hundreds of thousands of people would come to America illegally each year. 

A strong point in favor of the revised Senate bill - that will be heading to the House of Representatives shortly for their vote - is the effect it will have on the federal budget deficit. The CBO estimates that if the bill were passed as amended, it would shave $135 billion from the deficit in the first 10 years solely by collecting income and payroll taxes from legal immigrants, and as much as $685 billion by 2033.  

Source: USA Today, "CBO: Senate bill could cut illegal immigration by 50%," Alan Gomez, July 3, 2013.