April 9, 2009
Press Release
Late yesterday, the House passed H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act, by a vote of 239-182. A major component of the bill would require all employers to use a new automatic employment verification system, based on the current Basic Pilot Program which was authored by Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) almost 10 years ago. Rep. Calvert has championed the Basic Pilot Program during his tenure in the House and the provisions in H.R. 4437 are based on H.R. 19, a bill sponsored by Rep. Calvert.

"The passage of H.R. 4437 is a true victory for anyone concerned about our porous borders," said Rep. Calvert. "A central component of this bill requires employers to verify the name and Social Security number of their employees, an idea I have supported for a long time. The employment verification system is already working today in all 50 states on a voluntary basis and making its use mandatory will significantly improve immigration enforcement."

The bill will now go to the Senate for consideration in 2006.

Highlights of the bill include:

Combat Hiring of Illegal Workers – The bill institutes an employment eligibility verification system in which employers will check the Social Security numbers and alien identification numbers (provided by employees) against Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) records in order to weed out fraudulent numbers and ensure that their employees are not working in the U.S. illegally. This provision is based on H.R. 19, a bill authored by Rep. Calvert.

Increased Penalties for Alien Smuggling – Under current law, individuals convicted of alien smuggling crimes often receive lenient sentences. Provisions in the bill would greatly increase criminal penalties for alien smuggling by establishing mandatory minimum sentences, among other things. These provisions were recommended by a panel of border-area U.S. Attorneys to make it easier to deport smugglers and illegal entrants.

Crackdown on Alien Gang Members – This provision would render alien street gang members inadmissible and deportable, and authorize the Attorney General to designate groups or associations as criminal street gangs if they meet certain criteria. Also requires the detention of alien street gang members and bars alien gang members from receiving humanitarian benefits.

Increased Penalties for Aliens re-entering Illegally – Provisions would stiffen penalties for aliens who re-enter the United States after having been removed.

Aggravated Felony Provisions - The provisions would make aggravated felons (crimes of violence) inadmissible and would bar refugees and asylees with aggravated felony convictions from receiving green cards.

Cooperation between Border Sheriffs and Federal Law Enforcement – Provisions in the bill would authorize and reimburse local sheriffs in the 29 counties along the southern border to enforce the immigration laws and transfer illegal aliens to federal custody. It also specifically reimburses those sheriffs for costs associated with detaining illegal aliens whom they arrest until they are able to hand them over to federal authorities. This provision deems aliens in sheriffs' custody to be in federal custody once determined to be in an unlawful status.

Increasing DHS Authority for Long-Term Detention - The U.S. Supreme Court has limited DHS ability to detain dangerous aliens with decisions that have forced hundreds of aliens (such as murderers) to be released into American communities. One alien released because of these Court decisions later shot a state trooper in the head. This change would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to allow for continued detention of aliens who pose a threat to Americans.

Renewing DHS Authority to Use Reinstatement of Removal Process - In Morales-Izquierdo v. Ashcroft, the Ninth Circuit recently invalidated DHS reinstatement of removal regulations, which allows DHS to remove an alien previously deported by simply reinstating the alien's prior order of removal. The House Judiciary Committee has been told that this procedure was used in some 90,000 cases last year, and the Ninth Circuit's decision affects 40% of removals in the Ninth Circuit. This amendment to the INA would clarify DHS's authority to reinstate orders.

Barring Terrorist Aliens from Naturalization - Bars aliens who are potential terrorists or security risks from becoming U.S. citizens.

Deportation for DUI – Would make multiple DUI offenses a deportable offense for all aliens.

Establishing Operational Control of All Borders and Ports

Recognizing the need to bolster Border Patrol and surveillance capabilities to establish operational control of our borders and prevent the unlawful entry of terrorists and potential criminals, the bill:

Requires DHS and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to develop a joint strategic plan that will provide the Border Patrol with military support and increased use of DOD surveillance.

Requires DHS to conduct comprehensive risk assessments of all ports of entry and international land and maritime borders to prevent the entry of terrorists and weapons.

Authorizes 1,000 new, full-time port of entry inspectors over the next four years and the training of 1,500 additional K-9 units over the next five years.

Establishes physical barriers and incorporates widespread, state-of-the-art surveillance technology, including cameras, sensors, radar, satellite, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), in order to ensure one hundred percent coverage of our borders.

Eliminating the "Catch and Release" Practice

This year alone, some 115,000 illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico have been apprehended by the Border Patrol, only to be released due to a lack of detention space. Realizing that this so-called "catch and release" practice presents a clear danger to our nation's homeland security efforts, the bill:

Requires mandatory detention for all illegal immigrants who are apprehended at U.S. land borders attempting to cross illegally, by Oct. 1, 2006.

Requires all illegal immigrants apprehended at U.S. borders to remain in custody until removal from the country.

Requires that DHS use every available detention bed, in addition to authorizing new detention space and contracting with state and local jails for additional space.

Requires that, in the interim period before Oct. 1, 2006, illegal immigrants who are released pending an immigration removal hearing will have to post bond of at least $5,000.

Effectively Organizing the Border Security Agencies Within DHS

Recognizing the need to eliminate a number of identified organizational, operational, and fiscal problems and poor communication between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the two main border security agencies within DHS, the bill:

Requires the Secretary to take immediate action to address the lack of coordination between ICE and CBP by requiring improved intelligence sharing and implementing measures to determine the effectiveness of the Department's border security efforts.

Places Air and Marine Operations (AMO) directly under the authority of the Secretary, eliminating current bureaucracy and allowing for a more flexible, coordinated air program capable of providing tracking, deterrence, rapid response, and investigative support to multiple DHS agencies.

Promoting International Policies to Deter Illegal Immigration

In addition to taking action domestically, the bill promotes international policies to help deter illegal immigration and protect valid claims of asylum. This includes:

Requiring DHS to report to Congress on the progress of cross-border security agreements signed between Mexico and Canada and the United States, including the Smart Border Accord and the Security Partnership for Prosperity.

Authorizing the Secretary of Homeland Security to refuse visas to foreign nationals from countries that deny or delay the repatriation of their own nationals.

Protecting valid claims of asylum and fear of persecution through a review of the current Border Patrol training protocol, and taking measures to ensure integrity of the process.