CBO: With 'border surge,' Senate bill could cut illegal immigration by half

The Senate-passed immigration reform bill - after a "border surge" amendment was included in the legislation -- would cut illegal immigration by as much as fifty percent, a new report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates.

The amendment, introduced by Republican Sens. John Hoeven and Bob Corker and adopted by the full Senate into the bill passed last week, would double the number of border patrol agents and require the completion of 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. The measure, added to attract more GOP support for the overall legislation, was drafted partly in response to an earlier estimate that illegal immigration would only be cut by 25 percent under the version of the bill approved by a Senate committee.

In the new report out Wednesday, CBO estimates that the Senate-passed bill would decrease the inflow of undocumented immigrants by between one-third and one-half.

Analysts also estimated that the price tag on those border improvements would cut into the bill’s estimated net positive effect on the federal deficit. Under the original bill, deficits would have been expected to be reduced by $197 billion over the first 10 years after enactment; under the Senate-passed bill, that net decrease would be $158 billion over the same time period. 

(The difference in deficit reduction over the time period from 2024-2033 would be marginally different; under the Senate-passed bill, federal deficits would decrease by about $685 billion, compared to an original estimate of $700 billion.) 

The bill, passed last week by a bipartisan 68-32 majority, faces an uncertain future in the United States House.