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June 21
Senate Immigration Update: CBO Score and Enforcement Compromise

As lawmakers in the U.S. Senate continue floor debate on the chamber’s comprehensive immigration reform bill (S. 744), hopes of final passage for the measure have increased due to a long-awaited Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score for the bill and a compromise amendment on additional border enforcement measures designed to gather more Republican support. 

In its score report, CBO found that the Senate measure would net federal deficit budget reduction of $175 billion in the period spanning 2014-2023, with an additional $700 billion in net deficit reduction in 2024-2033 period. Regarding the required state and local government unfunded mandates estimate, CBO found that the bill is below the threshold of $75 million.

In analyzing the Senate measure, CBO used macroeconomic projections, which it does not typically use in its estimates, to predict that the Senate’s measure would contribute 3.3 percent to overall economic growth by 2023 and 5.4 percent by 2034. These increases are attributed to higher workforce participation, increased investments and increased productivity resulting from immigration reform.

Meanwhile, on the Senate floor, much of the week was spent debating enforcement amendments. The most notable of these amendments, offered by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), would have mandated 90 percent apprehension rates of those attempting to illegally across the southwest border as a precondition to changes in immigration status for currently undocumented immigrants. The amendment was tabled by a vote of 54-43.

Despite the tabling of Sen. Cornyn’s amendment, there seemed to be a growing sense on Capitol Hill that increased border enforcement measures were needed in the Senate bill to boost chances of the ultimate passage of comprehensive reform legislation in both chambers. As such, Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) offered an amendment that would provide an additional $30 billion for technological enforcement improvements and the hiring of an additional 20,000 border patrol officers. In addition, the amendment would require that the E-Verify system and airport entry and exit verification systems be in place before currently undocumented immigrants can change their immigration status. Sponsors of the Senate bill have expressed their support for the amendment, and Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) have stated that they will vote for the measure if this amendment is included. 

Contact:  Marilina Sanz msanz@naco.org 202.942.4260​

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