For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 18, 2007
Myth/Fact: Ten Key Myths About the Border Security and Immigration Reform Agreement
1. MYTH: This is amnesty.
FACT: Amnesty is the forgiveness
of an offense without penalty. This proposal is not amnesty because illegal
workers must acknowledge that they broke the law, pay a $1,000 fine, and
undergo criminal background checks to obtain a Z visa granting temporary legal
FACT: To apply for a green card
at a date years into the future, Z visa workers must wait in line behind those
who applied lawfully, pay an additional $4,000 fine, complete accelerated
English requirements, leave the U.S. and file their application in their home
country, and demonstrate merit based on the skills and attributes they will
bring to the United States.
FACT: Workers approved for Z
visas will be given a temporary legal status, but they will not enjoy the full
privileges of citizens or Legal Permanent Residents, such as welfare benefits
and the ability to sponsor relatives abroad as immigrants.
2. MYTH: This proposal repeats the
mistakes of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act.
FACT: The 1986 Act failed because
it provided amnesty for 3 million immigrants, did not adequately secure
borders, did not include a workable employer verification system, and created
no legal avenue to meet the labor needs of the American economy.
FACT: This proposal addresses
every one of the shortcomings from 1986:
Illegal workers must acknowledge that they broke the law and pay a fine to be
eligible for a Z visa.
Border security benchmarks must be met before the Z visa and temporary worker
programs go into effect. These triggers include: constructing 370 miles of
fencing and 200 miles of vehicle barriers at the border and increasing the size
of the Border Patrol to 18,000 agents.
Verification System: An Employment Eligibility Verification System must be
ready to process new hires before the Z visa and temporary worker programs go
Program: A temporary worker program will relieve pressure on the border and
provide a lawful way to meet the needs of our economy.
FACT: The 1986 Act offered green
cards after just 18 months, but under this proposal, green card applicants must
meet a number of responsibilities something which will take most candidates
more than a decade.
3. MYTH: The government will not
and cannot meet its promise to crack down on the hiring of illegal workers.
FACT: Before the Z visa and
temporary worker programs go into effect, an Employment Eligibility
Verification System (EEVS) must be in place and ready to prevent unauthorized
workers from obtaining jobs in the United States.
FACT: Employers will be required
to verify the work eligibility of all employees using the EEVS, and all workers
will be required to present stronger and more readily verifiable identification
documents. Tough new anti-fraud measures will be implemented to restrict fraud
and identity theft.
FACT: Employers who hire illegal
workers will face stiff new criminal and civil penalties. For example, the
maximum criminal penalty for a pattern or practice of hiring illegals will
increase 25-fold, from $3,000 per alien to $75,000 per alien.
4. MYTH: This proposal would cut in
half the amount of fence authorized by the Secure Fence Act of 2006.
FACT: The Secure Fence Act of
2006 which authorized the construction of hundreds of miles of additional
fencing; more vehicle barriers, checkpoints, and lighting; and increased use of
advanced technology will remain unchanged.
FACT: At least half of the
additional fencing authorized by the Secure Fence Act must be built before the
temporary worker program and Z visa could go into effect.
5. MYTH: The trigger period will
cause a rush to the border.
FACT: To be eligible to apply for
a Z visa, illegal immigrants must prove they were in the country prior to January 1, 2007.
FACT: Anyone caught crossing the
border after the new law passes will be fingerprinted and permanently barred
from receiving work or tourist visas from the U.S., creating a strong
disincentive to illegal immigration.
6. MYTH: By providing an
opportunity for citizenship to illegal immigrants already here, the bill will
exponentially increase extended-family chain migration.
FACT: The proposal reforms our
immigration system to create a new balance between family connections and our
national interests and economic needs.
FACT: Visas for parents of U.S.
citizens are being capped, while visas for siblings and adult children are
FACT: To help keep our economy
competitive, a new merit-based system similar to those used by other countries
will give preference to attributes that further our national interest such as:
job offers in high-demand fields, ability to speak English, and education.
7. MYTH: The temporary worker
program is bad for American workers.
FACT: The temporary worker
program relieves pressure on the border and meets our economic needs by
allowing workers to enter the country to fill jobs that Americans are not
FACT: The program protects
American workers by requiring U.S. employers to advertise the job in the United
States at a competitive wage before hiring a temporary worker.
FACT: To ensure
"temporary" means "temporary," workers are limited to three
two-year terms, with at least a year spent outside the United States between
FACT: A cap of 400,000 is set on
the program, which can be adjusted up or down in the future depending on
8. MYTH: Illegal immigrants will
come out of the shadows and on to the welfare rolls.
FACT: Z visa workers are not
entitled to welfare, Food Stamps, SSI, non-emergency Medicaid, or other
programs and privileges enjoyed by U.S. citizens and some Legal Permanent
FACT: In order to apply for and
maintain Z visa status, workers must remain employed.
9. MYTH: Government agencies will
not be able to share information to pursue immigration violators.
FACT: Under this proposal, there
will be unprecedented information sharing between Federal, State, and local
agencies to ensure that immigration laws are respected and enforced.
FACT: The new Employment
Eligibility Verification System, which employers will be required to use for
all employees, will rely on unprecedented information sharing across Federal
and State databases, including Social Security records, passport and visa
records, and State driver's licenses.
FACT: For Z visa applicants, DHS
has authority to share information with law enforcement about terrorist aliens,
security risks, and criminal aliens, including aliens who lie on their
applications and aliens who commit fraud.
FACT: Under this proposal, DHS
will receive Social Security Administration "no match" information on
individuals and information on multiple uses of the same social security number
by more than one individual.
10. MYTH: Senators are being asked
to vote Monday on a lengthy bill that they will not have time to read.
FACT: Monday's vote is only a
procedural vote to bring the bill to the floor for debate, not a vote on the
FACT: This bill is the product of
months of extraordinary negotiations between Senators from both parties and
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