As part of its roll out of the Executive Order on E-Verify mentioned yesterday, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff and Department of Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez have issued a joint press release giving an update on where the Administration is in achieving the 26 goals outlined last August.
The Border Fence
Approximately 330 miles of fencing have been completed. DHS believes it is on track to complete 670 miles of fencing by the end of this calendar year.
Border Patrol staffing
The number of Border Patrol agents has increased from 9,800 in fiscal year 2002 to a current number of 16,471 with an increase of more than 5,000 in the last year.
Chertoff believes that the border will be "secure" by the Border Patrol's definition sometime in 2011, perhaps earlier.
The number of apprehensions has decreased, but the White House argues that this is because the enforcement measures recently enacted are having the effect of reducing the number of attempts to enter the country.
Violence at the border
In this fiscal year, there have been 744 incidents of violence against Border Patrol agents, a 26% over last year.
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
Slated to go in to effect at land and sea ports in June 2009. The initiative has already been implemented at airports and there has been close to 100% compliance. 200,000 applications have been received for the new pass-card being issued by the State Department beginning this month.
Washington state has begun issuing REAL ID-compliant licenses. New York has announced a plan to issue compliant licenses. "Other states are on the way to doing so as well" (no actual number is provided, however).
Approximately 10% of new hires in the country are now run through E-Verify. 70,000 employers are currently enrolled. DHS claims that 99.5% are verified instantaneously [editor's note - critics point out that this figure only includes DHS non-confirmations and not Social Security Number non-confirmations, something that appears to be a much bigger problem].
With respect to the recent Executive Order mandating federal agencies require contractors to use an electronic verification system designated by DHS, DHS designates E-Verify. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, or workers will be covered by the order. Whether subcontractors will be covered will be determined when the regulation is written.
The Office of Management and Budget has just concluded its review of a proposed rule amending the federal acquisition regulation to implement the executive order.
90 employers convicted on criminal charges in the last year.
Legal Immigration facilitation
OPT rule released extending practical training from 12 to 29 months for student in science, technology, engineering and math fields working with an employer using E-Verify.
New H-1B rule prohibiting the filing of duplicate H-1B petitions by a single US employer for the same worker.
Employment Authorization Document validity period in adjustment cases increasing from one to two years beginning later this month.
H-2Bs - The Deaprtment of Labor porosed a rule addressing various "bureaucratic and ineffeciency concerns." DHS announced that yesterday it sent over to OMB a new proposed rule which would propose significant changes "designed to increase the effectiveness and attractiveness" of the H-2B program. The rule "eliminates certain regulatory barriers, adds protection for foreign workers, and increases efficiency and coordination." Most significantly, it would change the definition of temporary employment to recognize that some H-2B employment could last up to three years. Under the change, employers would now only need to show that a job is expected to last no more than three years rather than the current one year.