1. Border security. In 2006, the Secure Fence Act appropriated $1.2 billion (which many thought was an inadequate amount) to build a fence on 700 miles of the southern border. Much of this fence was never completed. This led border security hawk and former Sen. Jim DeMint (now head of the Heritage Foundation) to offer an amendment to the DHS appropriations bill in 2009 that would have mandated the fence be built by December 31, 2010. The amendment passed the Senate, but never became law, much to the dismay of DeMint and many other conservatives.
The new immigration reform bill contains $4.5 billion to implement border security. A majority of the border security funds go toward actual fence-building or maintaining a physical presence on the border — physical, not “virtual” fencing.
2. E-verify. Conservatives have long complained about employers hiring illegal immigrants and getting away with it. This bill contains tough e-verify provisions — potentially the biggest deterrent in the bill to future illegal immigration and illegal immigrants not eligible for legalization remaining in the US. This is significant, considering that many liberals and civil libertarians (for whom immigration reform is an important issue) oppose it. America’s Voice, a pro-immigration group, viewed inclusion of E-verify as a “trade-off.” The ACLU obviously is not enthused about E-verify forming a part of the bill. But conservatives got it into the bill.