In one border sector cited by GAO, the busy Tucson sector, 64 percent of people who managed to make it across the border were apprehended in 2011, while 23 percent turned back to Mexico and 13 percent got away. That meant the sector stopped or turned back 87 percent of crossers, close to the 90 percent level sought by the legislation.
The new goals would be achieved by giving the Department of Homeland Security six months from the bill's enactment to create a new border security plan deploying the personnel, infrastructure and technology needed to achieve the 90 percent effectiveness rate. Also within six months, the department would have to create a plan to identify where new fencing is needed on the border. Once those plans are certified, people living here illegally could begin to apply for a provisional status allowing them to work here legally.
If the 90 percent rate of apprehensions isn't achieved in high-risk border sectors within five years, a commission made of border state officials would make recommendations on how to achieve it.
After 10 years, people granted "registered provisional immigrant status" could apply for green cards granting them permanent residency — and the ability to seek citizenship — if the new security and fencing plans have been completed, the mandatory employment verification system is in place and used by all employers, and the new electronic exit system is operating at airports and seaports, collecting machine-readable visa or passport information from airplanes and ships.
The electronic exit system is meant to keep better track of people in the country on temporary visas. Some 40 percent of people in the country illegally arrived with visas but stayed after they expired. The employment verification piece would be an expansion of an existing system called E-Verify that's currently voluntary for most employers, though it's mandatory in some states.
The bill would allocate $5.5 billion for the various proposals, including $1.5 billion for fencing, $2 billion for other border measures and $2 billion to help the commission of border state officials do its work, should that become necessary, the person said, stressing more or less money could be allocated if needed.
The border security details were first reported Wednesday by the Wall Street Journal.
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