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Homeland Security 5 Year Anniversary 2003 - 2008, One Team, One Mission Securing the Homeland

Immigration Policy

Border Security

  • Strengthen Border Security with Additional Personnel and Infrastructure.
    2008 year-end targets:
    • 18,000 Border Patrol agents
    • 370 miles of fencing
    • 300 miles of vehicle barriers
    • Three additional UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)
    2009 targets:
    • 1,700 more Border Patrol Agents
    • One additional UAV

  • "Catch and Return" policy for illegal aliens caught at the border. A policy of "catch and return," ensures that aliens trying to cross the border illegally are held until they can be removed.
    • Increased funding will ensure enough detention beds for 31,500 illegal aliens until they can be returned.
    • Work with recalcitrant countries to repatriate their citizens who are in the U.S. illegally.

  • Strengthen legal efforts to keep international gang members out of the U.S.
    The federal government already refuses visas to known members of certain gangs. The State Department and the Department of Homeland Security are expanding the list of of internation organized gangs whose members are automatically denied admission to the U.S.

  • Expand exit requirements to better identify those overstaying limited-duration visits.
    • The US-VISIT exit requirement will be in place at all U.S. airports and seaports by the end of 2008. The Department will explore means of establishing biometric exit requirements at land borders.
    • The pilot program of new land-border exit system for guest workers will help ensure that temporary workers follow the mandate to leave when their work authorization expires.

  • Require all travelers to use passports or similar secure documents for U.S. Air travelers have been required to carry a passport for U.S. entry since January 2007. That requirement has also been applied to sea and land travelers since January 31, 2008.

  • "State of the Border" Reports. Since the fall of 2007, the Secretary of Homeland Security has delivered regular "state of the border" reports to discuss progress in securing the border.

Interior and Worksite Enforcement

Immigration and Customs Enforcement Activities*

  • 1,101 individuals criminally arrested
  • 5,173 administratative arrests in worksite operations
  • 1,193 new worksite investigations initiated

    *As of 9/30/08

e-Verify Usage

  • 88,116 registered e-Verify employers (as of 10/9/08)
  • 766,682 e-Verify queries for the month of September 2008

Interior Enforcement

  • Training for law enforcement officers to address illegal immigration in their communities.
    Measures include:
    • Formal task forces
    • Greater use of the ICE Law Enforcement Support Center
    • Delegated border search and seizure authority under Title 19
    • Enhanced partnerships on location-specific threats, such as gangs

  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement teams devoted to removing fugitive aliens have quintupled in less than three years. The number of Fugitive Operations Teams has grown from 15 in 2005, to over 100 today.

  • The Justice Department will initiate regulatory action to close the "voluntary departure" loophole. Regulatory action closes a loophole that permits illegal immigrants who accept "voluntary departure" to nevertheless keep litigating their case.

Worksite Enforcement

  • A "No Match" regulation will help employers ensure workers are legal and help the government crack down on employers who knowingly hire illegal workers. The Social Security Administration will identify employers with a large number of employees with inaccurate personal information. Those employers receive a "No Match" letter, and they may be held liable if they ignore it.

  • New regulation reduces the number of documents acceptable to confirm employees’ identity and work eligibility. Employers have little capacity to verify document authenticity, and this regulation disallows many document categories often used in identity fraud.

  • Fines imposed for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants have been raised by approximately 25 percent. These fines have been so modest as to be considered by some as nothing more than the cost of doing business. The 25% increase is the limit under current law.

  • Expanding criminal investigations against employers who knowingly hire large numbers of illegal aliens. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests for criminal violations have increased from 24 in 1999 to 1,101 in FY 2008. Anecdotal evidence suggests that companies are adjusting business practices accordingly.

  • ICE set a new all-time record for alien removals in fiscal year 2008: 349,041 illegal aliens were removed from the country.

  • Transnational gangs like MS-13 pose a clear threat to public safety. Gangs cause spillover into other kinds of criminal activity, including illegal drugs. Under Operation Community Shield, ICE has arrested more than 11,000 illegal alien gang members and their associates since the program's inception. This number includes a surge of more than 1,700 arrests over the past 4 months.

  • A rulemaking process required all federal contractors and vendors to use e-Verify to ensure their employees' work eligibility. There are more than 200,000 companies doing federal business with the federal government.

  • Assistance to help states make greater use of e-Verify. Some states already mandate use of e-Verify, and others are considering it.

  • Expanding data sources e-Verify can check. New sources of data will include cross-checks of visa and passport information.

  • States are sharing Department of Motor Vehicles photos and records with e-Verify on a voluntary basis. Agreements to allow e-Verify access to state DMV photo databases help prevent illegal immigrants from using fraudulent driver’s licenses. Such agreements lay the groundwork for further expansion of the electronic employment eligibility verification system.


  • Department of Labor (DOL) Reforms to the H-2A Agricultural Seasonal Worker Program. DOL will reform the H-2A program so the agriculture industry can readily hire legal foreign workers.

  • DOL regulations to streamline the H-2B program for non-agricultural seasonal workers. This program has proven very popular among seasonal industries, which frequently have a difficult time finding temporary workers. The proposed rule addresses processing delays by moving to an employer-attestation system.

  • The Department will extend the visa term for professional workers from Canada and Mexico to attract more of these talented workers to the United States. The roughly 65,000 workers who enter the United States each year on the Trade NAFTA visa will have their visa term extended from one to three years.

  • The Department of Homeland Security and The Department of Labor will study and report on potential administrative reforms to visa programs for highly skilled workers.


  • Reformed and expedited background checks for immigration. Substantial funds have been invested to address the immigration backlog. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) are working to streamline existing processes to reduce waiting times without sacrificing security.

  • The Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration will study and report on technical and recordkeeping reforms necessary to deny illegal aliens credit in our social security system for illegal work. Currently, aliens who make Social Security payments while working here legally can continue to accrue credits even if they overstay their visa.


Find out more

  • Revised naturalization test announced in September 2007. This test covers concepts of American democracy, U.S. history, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. The newly standardized test eliminates variations across regional offices.

  • Additional training for volunteers and adult educators leading immigrants through the naturalization process. Web-based training covers U.S. government, civics education, and the naturalization process. Regional training conferences complement volunteers' online training.

  • The Department of Education will launch a free, web-based portal to help immigrants learn English. An investment in these tools will be repaid many times over in the contributions these immigrants make to our political discourse, economy, and society.

This page was last reviewed/modified on November 17, 2008.