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Summary of the Sensenbrenner Immigration Bill

Immigrant Policy Project

Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 | H.R. 4437
Co-Sponsors: Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Representative Peter King (R-NY)

 

On Dec. 16, 2005, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (H.R. 4437) passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 239 to 182.  This legislation, sponsored by Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Homeland Security Chairman Peter King(R-NY), seeks to address illegal immigration by strengthening interior enforcement of immigration laws and enacting additional border security measures.  Provisions to establish a guestworker program are not included in this legislation.  This document summarizes key sections of the bill that relate to state and local government.

Enforcement of Immigration Law

  • Criminalizes violations of federal immigration law, including illegal presence, which indirectly shifts the responsibility of immigration enforcement to state and local law authorities. 
  • Expands the definition of “aggravated felony” to include smuggling offenses, illegal entry and reentry crimes. 
  • Reduces the maximum period of voluntary departure from 120 to 60 days.    
  • Reaffirms states’ “inherent authority” to assist with immigration law enforcement.
  • Requires that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provide a training manual and “pocket guide” relating to enforcement of immigration laws to state and local law enforcement authorities.  In addition, DHS is required to make training for state and local law enforcement available “through as many means possible.”  Receipt of such training is not a prerequisite for state and local assistance with immigration law enforcement. 
  • Authorizes funds for grants to state and local law enforcement for equipment and other products used in enforcing immigration law.   
  • Funds in the amount of $1 billion each fiscal year are authorized for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP). 
  • Bars states and localities that prohibit state and local law enforcement of immigration law from receipt of funds otherwise granted to states to reimburse expenses related illegal immigrants. 
  • Requires that aliens who violate certain provisions of immigration law (those subject to a removal order, subject to a voluntary departure agreement, anyone who has overstayed an I-94, and anyone whose visa has been revoked) be listed in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. 

Border Security

  • Provides for a variety of new technology to assist DHS in monitoring ports of entry and land borders. 
  • Establishes a Border Security Advisory Committee that includes representatives of state and local government.
  • Allows homeland security grants funds to be used to support border enforcement activities.
  • Provides for additional fencing to be constructed along the U.S. – Mexico Border and calls for a study to examine the construction of a fence along the Northern/Canadian Border. 

Worksite Enforcement and Employer Verification

  • Establishes an electronic/phone system employment verification process and requires participation by all employers.
  • Requires re-verification of all previously hired employees under the new system.  Federal, state and local governments would have meet this requirement within three years of enactment of the legislation.
  • Increases civil penalties for hiring individuals without employment authorization. 
  • Expands requirements for employment verification to day-laborer sites.

 

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