The Washington Post

Border security proposal draws Republican support for Senate immigration bill

In a compromise that could guarantee wide bipartisan support for the Senate’s bill to reform the immigration system, senators have agreed to significantly increase security at the Mexican border:

Senators have reached an agreement that would almost double the number of federal agents along the U.S.-Mexico border, require construction of 700 miles of border fencing and provide money for aerial drones.

Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) later Thursday are expected to announce details of the agreement that they worked on in recent days with members of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” who wrote the immigration bill. . .

In an early sign of how critical the deal could be towards securing more GOP support for the immigration bill, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said Thursday morning that he now plans to vote for the legislation because the new deal “will restore the people’s trust in our ability to control the border.”

The agreement calls for a “border surge” that would double the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents along the southern border to more than 40,000, according to aides. The federal government also would need to complete construction of about 700 miles of fencing along the border, essentially forcing compliance with immigration laws passed in 1996 and 2006 that authorized its construction. . .

The agreement is another victory for the bipartisan gang, but also for Corker, Hoeven and at least eight other centrist Senate Republicans who were always expected to support the immigration bill, but wanted to toughen the legislation by adding stricter border security provisions in hopes of increasing the margin of bipartisan support. Supporters believe that a significant bipartisan majority might all-but force House Republicans to take up the Senate bill even as it considers smaller, more conservative proposals.

Ed O’Keefe

Speaking on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown” Thursday, Corker said the security measures are “almost overkill.”

The bill would increase the number of people who are expected to immigrate to the United States in the next 20 years from about 20 million to about 36 million, according to the Congressional Budget Office. For more on how undocumented immigrants’ status would change under the proposed law, continue reading here. Meanwhile, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has proposed an amendment that would remove the path to citizenship from the bill, and a group of female senators wants to make sure that women in other countries would have an equal opportunity to immigrate under the new rules.

Immigration is contributing to the housing market, increasing demand and prices, according to recent research:

Vigdor estimates that the average immigrant adds 11.5 cents to the value of the average home in his county. Considering that there are 40 million immigrants in the U.S., and 800,000 housing units, that adds up to about $3.7 trillion in increased housing value.

That could be a blessing or a curse. On the one hand, that’s $3.7 trillion more wealth that somebody holds. On the other, it translates into costlier mortgages which in turn translate into costlier rents, making housing less affordable. But Vigdor’s not particularly worried about that. In already costly counties like San Francisco or Manhattan, the effects are muted. “You don’t see an effect at all in Manhattan or San Francisco,” Vigdor says. “You see it in other neighborhoods that have fallen out of favor. If you look at what part of New York has had a big impact from immigration, it’s the Bronx, it’s Queens.”

Areas like those, which saw middle class families flee in the 1970s, tend to develop more once immigrants arrive, not least because there’s just more people around. “In a service economy, the number of jobs depends on the number of people to provide services to,” Vigdor says. But immigrants don’t just shift housing demand to blighted areas of metro regions that are wealthy overall, like the Bay Area or New York City. They also help out entire metro regions that otherwise would have undergone decline, especially in the Rust Belt. “The number of U.S.-born Americans residing in Chicago and surrounding Cook County, IL, has declined by 900,000 since 1970,” Vigdor writes. “The arrival of nearly 600,000 immigrants over the same time period offset most of that decline—and most likely kept additional natives from leaving—blunting what could have been a catastrophic impact on the local housing market.”

Dylan Matthews

The ultimate prospects for the bill in the Senate are uncertain, even though polling data suggests that majorities of Americans support many of its provisions:

The news on Thursday that key senators have reached a deal on beefing up border security in the Senate bill was a boost for the “Gang of Eight” bipartisan group that crafted the immigration overhaul legislation. So was the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s finding earlier this week that the Senate bill would trim deficits by nearly $200 million.

On the other hand, House Speaker John Boehner’s vow not to bring a bill to a vote in the House that does not have majority GOP support promises to make it even tougher for a Senate-passed bill to clear the more conservative House.

The bottom line that the fate of the immigration reform effort remains in doubt — no matter what the polls say.

Sean Sullivan

For the latest on this story, continue reading here. To see how each senator is likely to vote on the bill, read the whip list here.

Max Ehrenfreund writes for Wonkblog and compiles Wonkbook, a daily policy newsletter. You can subscribe here. Before joining The Washington Post, Ehrenfreund wrote for the Washington Monthly and The Sacramento Bee.

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