Data Not Sufficient for Proposed Legislation

PEMD-89-8: Published: Dec 28, 1988. Publicly Released: Dec 28, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reported on the availability and adequacy of data needed to meet reporting requirements under S. 2104, which would revise numerical immigration limitations and require the Attorney General to report: (1) annually on the effects of immigration; and (2) every 3 years on the need to revise immigration limitations.

GAO found that: (1) although there are quantitative data relevant to conduct the required studies, the data are inadequate to meet the proposed reporting requirements; (2) alien demographic and legal status data were frequently unavailable; (3) there were only limited data on the impact of immigration on resources, the environment, and foreign policy; (4) some data, such as the decennial census, could be used only once a decade to meet the S. 2104 reporting requirements; and (5) there are no current or planned data that could be technically adequate for cause-and-effect immigration analyses. GAO believes that the S. 2104 reporting requirements could be met through augmentation of existing databases or through additional data collection by: (1) integrating different data sources within the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS); (2) expanding INS data collection to include more immigrant demographic data; (3) encouraging states with large immigrant populations to develop compatible databases; and (4) improving emigration data.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Legislation was re-introduced without recommended changes. The bill was passed.

    Matter: Congress should remove from proposed legislation the linkage between impact measures and the process of periodic review of the numerical limits. However, if Congress views this linkage as critical, then a variety of steps should be undertaken to strengthen immigration data. A number of federal agencies could be involved in such a data improvement effort.


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