A Judicial Watch Special Report: U.S. Border Patrol Survey Analysis Detailing the U.S. Government's Polling of Apprehended Illegal Immigrants on the Southern Border in January 2004

By Judicial Watch, Inc., June 28, 2005

Executive Summary

President Bush’s “temporary guest worker” proposal of January 7, 2004 was broadly interpreted as an illegal immigration amnesty program around the country and abroad. The Bush administration ordered the U.S. Border Patrol to survey apprehended illegal immigrants concerning President Bush’s proposal. The results indicated that President Bush’s proposal had actually lured greater numbers of illegal immigrants to violate the law. Politically inconvenient and/or potentially embarrassing data from the Border Patrol survey resulted in the Bush administration calling off the survey on January 27, 2004. The U.S. government never released a report based on the survey.

The White House directed Homeland Security Public Affairs Officers to deliberately withhold information from the public and the media about the Border Patrol survey and a related spike in illegal immigration. The Bush administration mislead Americans for political purposes. The White House approved talking points included:

• Do not talk about amnesty, increase in apprehensions, or give comparisons of past immigration reform proposals.

• Do not provide statistics on apprehension spikes or past amnesty data.

While the Border Patrol’s unscientific survey and its aborted execution may not provide a comprehensive picture of the relationship between President Bush’s immigration proposal and illegal immigration, the initial data is deeply disturbing. Analysis of the raw data from the survey forms indicates:

• 45% crossed illegally based on rumors of a Bush administration amnesty.
• 63% received Mexican government or media information supporting the notion of a Bush administration amnesty.
• 64% previously entered the United States illegally.
• 80% desired to apply for amnesty.
• 66% desired to petition for family members to join them in the U.S.

Judicial Watch will continue to pursue this case and other illegal immigration matters, and report facts to the American people as part of its mission as a public interest educational foundation.


President Bush’s proposed “temporary worker program” was broadly interpreted as an amnesty offer to illegal immigrants. A spike in illegal immigration following President Bush’s speech was surveyed as a priority intelligence requirement for a three-week period by the Border Patrol. Survey results were politically unfavorable to the Bush administration, who ordered the survey stopped. The White House directed public affairs officers to withhold information in order to mislead the public and stave off potential political embarrassment. The government only produced records material to the survey once Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit in federal court. The government continues to withhold additional records concerning this matter. Judicial Watch will continue to pursue this case and other illegal immigration matters, and report facts to the American people, as part of its mission as a public interest education foundation.

(Read the complete report in PDF format.)