WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded on Monday that an amendment to bolster border security in a landmark immigration bill would reduce unlawful entries as well as visa overstays.
Republican Senator John Hoeven, a chief author of the amendment, told Reuters he welcomed the CBO's findings and that it may help build support for the legislation in the Senate as well as in the House of Representatives.
The preliminary CBO report, released shortly before the amendment cleared a Senate test vote, offered no numbers on how much the amendment would reduce illegal immigration.
The amendment was drafted last week after an earlier CBO report estimated that the bill itself would cut illegal immigration by just 25 percent.
The amendment is aimed at drawing Republican support for comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to U.S. citizenship for up to 11 million undocumented foreigners.
At a cost of $46 billion, the amendment would double to 40,000 the number of federal agents on the U.S.-Mexico border. It would also arm them with additional high-tech surveillance equipment, including radar, drones and planes.
"The amendment would significantly increase border security relative to the committee-approved version of the bill, and it would strengthen enforcement actions against those who stay in the country after their authorization has expired," the CBO wrote,
"Therefore, (the) CBO expects that, relative to the committee-approved version of (the bill), the amendment would reduce both illegal entry into the country and the number of people who stay in the country beyond the end of their authorized period."
Reporting by Thomas Ferraro and Richard Cowan.; Editing by Jackie Frank and Christopher Wilson