Cutting illegal immigration by between 33 percent and 50 percent (a fairly big range) is not exactly a passing grade. According to one estimate, the CBO’s original report on S. 744 suggested that, ten years from the bill’s passage, there could be 8.3 million illegal immigrants in the US. This new CBO report suggests that S. 744 would now shave that number down to 7.5 million illegal immigrants. Senator Rubio said last month that “none of us wants to be here five years from now facing 5 million illegal immigrants more, another wave of illegal immigration,” but under even the newly amended bill, there could easily be over 7 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. by 2023.
One of the major limitations of Corker-Hoeven is that it fixates on border security, but many illegal immigrants are visa-overstayers (a demographic that could grow under the guest-worker programs of the bill). Interior enforcement would seem very important for reducing illegal immigration. Some GOP leaders have suggested trading immediate legalization for the promise of future enforcement, but this report suggests that even such future enforcement might not be sufficient, assuming that enforcement happens at all. The administration’s decision to delay the Obamacare employer mandate reminds us that future enforcement strategies might also be delayed — perhaps indefinitely.