Border Security and the Senate “Gang of 8’s” Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

By Tom K. Wong, tomkwong@ucsd.edu, @twong002

The 2013 version of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) now has a name: the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. Here is a preliminary summary of the border security aspects of the bill (jump to the bottom for main takeaways). The Senate “gang of 8’s” summary outline can be found here. The link between border security and legalization/path to citizenship will be discussed in more detail in my next post.

The Goal of Border Security: 90% Effectiveness Rate

Unsurprisingly, border security plays a prominent role in the Senate “gang of 8’s” bill. Within 6-months of enactment, the bill will require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to submit a plan to achieve “effective control” along the U.S.-Mexico border. The bill will appropriate $3 billion for this. The bill defines one of the main goals of border security as being a 90% effectiveness rate.

  • 90% Effectiveness Rate   The bill defines the “effectiveness rate” as the number of persons who are apprehended at the border divided by the total number of unauthorized entries. A 90% effectiveness rate thus means that 9 out of every 10 unauthorized entries will be detected and deterred.
  • Surveillance Capabilities   The $3 billion will also be used to a) integrate surveillance technologies used by the Department of Defense in border security efforts, b) add additional Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel, and c) deploy additional drones along the Southern border.

Southern Border Security Commission

If border security goals are not met within 5 years, a “Southern Border Security Commission” will be established and the bill will include an additional $2 billion to implement a second phase of border security measures. The Border Commission would be comprised of the Governors of border states, as well as border security experts. It is interesting to note that if a 90% effectiveness rate is achieved within 5 years, the $2 billion dollars will be used to bolster interior immigration enforcement efforts.

Border Fencing and Technologies

The bill will appropriate an additional $1.5 billion for border fencing.

  • Border Fencing and Technology   An additional $1.5 billion will be used to implement the “Southern Border Fencing Strategy,” which will reinforce existing border fencing, add double- and triple-layered fencing in some areas, and improve the technologies used in monitoring the fences along the Southern border.

Here are the quick takeaways:

  • Up to $6.5 billion for border security
  • The “Border Security Goal” is a 90% effectiveness rate
  • 6-months to create a plan to achieve this goal
  • If the goal is not achieved within 5-years, a “Southern Border Security Commission” will be established
  • Monies appropriated for border security will be used for, among other things:
    • Additional CBP personnel
    • Deploy the National Guard to the Southern border
    • Integrate surveillance technologies used by the DOD in border security efforts
    • Reinforce and construct new fencing, including double- and triple-layered fencing
    • Deploy additional drones along the Southern border
    • Construct new checkpoints along the Southern border
    • Add new border patrol stations along the Southern border
    • Enhance local cooperation with CBP personnel (e.g., Operation Stonegarden)

Tomás Jiménez – What’s Really Behind Diversity’s Effect on Social Capital? Evidence from a Super-diverse Context

Seminar to be held on Wednesday, April 17th in ERC 115 at 12:00 pm.

Tomás Jiménez is an assistant professor of sociology at Stanford University. He is also a Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion. His research and writing focus on immigration, assimilation, social mobility, and ethnic and racial identity.  He is currently working on three projects. The first examines how host-society individuals (US-born of US-born parents) participate in the assimilation process by drawing on in-depth interviews with host-society individuals and observations in three distinct sub-regions in the Silicon Valley: East Palo Alto, Cupertino, and Berryessa. A second project (with Stanford PhD Candidate, Lorena Castro) looks at how immigration becomes part of American national identity by studying a sample of high school US history textbooks from 1930-2005. A third project (with social psychologist John Dovidio (Yale), political scientist Deborah Schildkraut (Tufts), and social psychologist Yuen Ho (UCLA), uses lab experiments, survey data, and in-depth interviews to to understand how contextual factors shape the sense of belonging and related intergroup attitudes, behaviors, and support for immigration policies among immigrants and host-society members in the United States.  Professor Jiménez has taught at the University of California, San Diego. He has also been an Irvine Fellow at the New America Foundation. Before that, he was the American Sociological Association Congressional Fellow in the office of Rep. Michael Honda (CA-15). He holds a B.S. in sociology from Santa Clara University and A.M.and Ph.D. degrees in sociology from Harvard University.

CCIS Research Associate Marisa Abrajano publishes two books on Latino politics


Marisa Abrajano has published Campaigning to the New American Electorate: Television Advertising to Latinos and New Faces and New Voices: The Hispanic Electorate in America.

    Abrajano, Marisa. 2010. Campaigning to the New American Electorate: Television Advertising to Latinos. Stanford: Stanford University Press.


    Abrajano, Marisa and Michael Alvarez. 2010. New Faces, New Voices: The Hispanic Electorate in America. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

CCIS Research Associate April Linton co-publishes new article on restrictive language policies.

April Linton has published “Bilingualism for the Children: Dual-Language Programs under Restrictive Language Policies in Forbidden”.

Linton, April and Rebecca C. Franklin. 2010. “Bilingualism for the Children: Dual-Language Programs under Restrictive Language Policies.” Chap. 11 in Forbidden Language: English Learners and Restrictive Language Policies edited by Patricia Gándara and Megan Hopkins. New York: Teachers College Press.

View Publication Info »

Q&A: UCSD immigration expert Wayne Cornelius on why the Dream Act went down

BY LESLIE BERESTEIN ROJAS   DECEMBER 21, 2010

Participants in a vigil and rally for the Dream Act in downtown Los Angeles earlier this month
(Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC)

The defeat in the Senate last Saturday of the Dream Act, which would have granted conditional legal status to qualifying undocumented college students, graduates and military hopefuls who arrived here before age 16, was just the most recent action on a proposal that has been circulating for nearly a decade. And each time it has come up for a vote, UC San Diego’s Wayne Cornelius has followed it, as he has every other federal immigration proposal that has come and gone since then.

Cornelius is one of the nation’s leading scholars on immigration and U.S.-Mexico border issues, a political scientist and director emeritus of UCSD’s Center for Comparative Immigration Studies. He is now associate director of the university’s Center of Expertise on Migration and Health.

After years of observing the politics of immigration, Cornelius has his own take on why the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act failed this time around, in spite of unprecedented student activism and a streamlining of the bill that allowed it to clear the House. He shares his opinion on the Obama administration’s strategy of pushing tough enforcement as a means to win support for broader immigration reform, a strategy he believes is doomed to fail.

M-A: Why do you think that in this latest round of the Dream Act, with all of the activism, the recent tightening of the bill and the positive Congressional Budget Office analysis, the proposal still failed? Was it purely partisan politics, or is there any sort of adjustment that could have saved it?

Cornelius: The partisan politics of the Dream Act were impossible to overcome. In this sense, it wasn’t fixable, however many tightening concessions were made.

The larger problem is that the entire Obama immigration policy strategy was based on a high-risk gamble that winning credibility on border and interior enforcement among members of Congress would buy the political space needed to enact comprehensive immigration reform.

This strategy was fundamentally misconceived because Republicans in Congress have found tough immigration stances to be reliably effective in mobilizing their base, and because the Great Recession heightened public anxiety and anger about immigration.

The Obama administration has continued the Bush II-era border fortification project and also significantly toughened interior enforcement, pushing spending on all forms of immigration enforcement to unprecedented levels. But with the failure of the Dream Act, and the negligible probability of enacting any larger legalization program in the next Congress, President Obama is left with nothing but the stick.

His immigration legacy may well turn out to be a step-level increase in immigration enforcement and spending, with no progress on anything unrelated to pursuing the undocumented – even high-achieving students brought to this country as children. To those of us who worked hard in his presidential campaign, that is a bitter pill.

M-A: What did you see as the Dream Act opponents’ main concerns?

Cornelius: Publicly, they said that they opposed rewarding law-breakers (undocumented students brought to the U.S. as children?), and that legalizing this small population would serve as a magnet for untold millions of new illegal aliens (despite a total lack of empirical evidence to support this “magnet” hypothesis). But this is a smoke screen. These are the arguments that play well with the GOP’s base and Tea Partiers. Whether GOP members of Congress really believe them or not, that’s what determines their strategy on this issue.
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M-A: What makes it so difficult for non-enforcement (i.e. non-fence, etc.) immigration reform bills to pass? Is it a question of being able to quantify results?

Cornelius: None of the proponents of tougher immigration controls is interested in evidence-based policymaking.

M-A: So what happens next? Non-enforcement measures like this one appear to stand no chance before 2012. Then what?

Cornelius: The next two years may bring some ramping down of the most heavy-handed interior enforcement activities, but the genie is now out of the bottle.

In many cities and counties, for example, local police have assumed an aggressive immigration enforcement role that will not be surrendered easily. Our most recent (UCSD/Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, January-February 2010) survey of migrants from Jalisco found that more than one-quarter of them had been stopped by police and interrogated about their immigration status within the last twelve months.

I don’t see a Congressional coalition capable of withstanding the anti-immigration forces anytime in the foreseeable future. Obama’s political advisors will be telling him that pushing comprehensive immigration reform would complicate the challenge of winning back independent voters who have deserted him in the last two years (independents tend to prefer a harder line on immigration than Democrats), so he can’t go too far in that direction. The countervailing pressure will come from Latinos, who will justifiably feel that they have been thrown under the reelection bus.

What it will take to change the basic political calculus is a broad, robust, sustained economic recovery that generates highly visible labor shortages across the country and refocuses public and Congressional attention on immigration as one solution to this problem.

Want to predict when that will happen?

View Full Interview

Beyond assimilation: The Second Generation in France

Beyond assimilation: The Second Generation in France

Seminar to be held in ERC 115 at 2:00 pm.
After being one of the most renowned “assimilationnist’s country” in the world, France has recently been engaged in quick changes in its framing of incorporation of “immigrants”. Indeed, not only the concepts and theories used to portray the processes behind the “remaking of the French mainstream” have dramatically changed but the categories of those targeted by these processes have also been renewed. Access of “new second generations” (i.e. those born from the waves of immigration of the 1950s and 1960s) to the job market and their visibility in social, political and cultural life have challenged the “French model of integration”.
This presentation will confront the normative model of integration, the so-called republican model, to the prospects of the second generation. I will argue that the salience of race and ethnicity for minority members in contemporary France is challenging the expectations of a convergence in norms, values and practices at the second generation. A specific attention will be given to the role played by religion (Islam) and political participation. Data come from a new survey Trajectories and Origins: a survey on population diversity in France, which is the largest survey ever done in France on immigrants and second generation. Promoted by INED and the French National Statistical Institute (INSEE), the survey gathered information via a long questionnaire administered in face-to-face interviews to 22 000 respondents from 5 specific sub-samples: Immigrants (8300), descendents of Immigrants (8200), Overseas French (700), descendents of Overseas French (700) and “mainstream population” (3900). The questionnaire covers wide-ranging areas of social experience (education, employment, housing, family formation, language, religion, transnational ties, political participation and citizenship…) and focuses on experiences of discrimination and identity. Findings on religion, political participation, employment, neighborhoods and discrimination will be presented to support the thesis of an ongoing process of racialization of the French society and the rise of ethnic and racial minorities.

Amada Armenta is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at UCLA and a Predoctoral Research Fellow at the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego. Her research has been supported by various organizations including the National Science Foundation, the American Society of Criminology, the American Sociological Association, the Social Science Research Council, and the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies. She has presented professional papers at numerous national conferences, and has been published in International Migration Review, Qualitative Sociology, and Work and Occupations. Her current research focuses on the politics and implementation of the 287(g) program in Nashville, Tennessee.