The Bush administration announced a series of steps Friday to bolster security on the border, heighten work-site immigration enforcement, streamline guest worker programs and improve the immigration system.

Work-Site Enforcement

* Force employers to act within 90 days on “no-match” letters from the Social Security Administration indicating that employees have inaccurate or fraudulent identity information.

* Accept only official documents from the 29 types of identification that employees can now use to establish they are eligible to work.

* Raise fines by 25% for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

* Expand criminal probes of employers who knowingly hire large numbers of illegal immigrants.

* Require the more than 200,000 companies working for the federal government to use E-Verify, an electronic employment verification system, to ensure employees are legal.

* Encourage state governments to use E-Verify.

* Add more data to E-Verify to catch identity thieves.

* Ask states to share driver’s license photos and records with E-Verify.

Border Security

* Increase the number of Border Patrol agents to 20,000 by the end of 2009.

* Add enough detention space to hold 31,500 illegal immigrants.

* Expand the immigration ban on known gang members from China, the former Soviet Union and El Salvador to gangs from other countries.

* Step up efforts to identify people who overstay limited-duration visits, possibly by establishing biometric exit requirements.

* Require all sea and land travelers to have passports or other secure identification documents to enter the country by Jan. 31, 2008.

Interior Enforcement

* Expand assistance to state and local law enforcement in identifying illegal immigrants.

* Increase the number of seven-member federal teams devoted to apprehending fugitive foreigners from 68 to 75 by the end of September.

* Issue new regulations to prevent illegal immigrants who agree to depart voluntarily from using procedural motions to stay longer. Set a $3,000 penalty for failing to leave.

Streamline Guest Worker Programs

* Simplify the agricultural seasonal-worker program to provide farmers with an orderly and timely flow of legal workers.

* Eliminate processing delays in a program for nonagricultural seasonal workers.

* Extend the term of visas from one year to three for the approximately 65,000 professionals who enter each year from Canada and Mexico.

* Study ways to improve visa programs for highly skilled workers.

Improve Existing Immigration System

* Expedite background checks for legal immigrants.

* Develop a plan to prevent illegal immigrants from earning Social Security credit.

Source: White House


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