Immigration Reform Bill Stuffed With Amendments for Fence-Sitting Senators

Lawmakers not along southern border, still see perks in immigration bill.

(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Republican Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., drafted the border security amendment to attract more GOP support for the comprehensive immigration package

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Monday night the Senate will vote on a "border surge" amendment that would add 700 new miles of border fence, 20,000 new border security agents and increase the use of drones and technology to secure the southern border between the U.S. and Mexico.

But senators in Texas and Arizona are not the only ones who will see perks from the immigration overhaul.

Republican Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., drafted the border security amendment to attract more GOP support for the comprehensive immigration package, but conservative groups say the amendment is nothing more than a Band-Aid for a leaky border, stuffed with sweeteners rather than solutions to get more Republicans to sign on.

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Here are a few provisions included in the Hoeven-Corker bill that may have more to do with attracting support than bolstering the southern border.

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who are the furthest Senators from the southern border, got a sweet deal for Alaska with provisions that would give their state access to more seasonal seafood workers. The amendments would allow the seafood industry to hire short-term workers under the "Summer Work Travel" visa program and expedite the process under which they apply for such workers.

"I'm pleased with this 'belt and suspenders' approach to addressing the seafood industry guest worker needs," Begich said in a statement. "I am determined to make sure Alaska seafood industry employers have the reliable pool of seasonal help they need to maintain adequate processing capacity. Without adequate processing capacity fishermen can't deliver their catch, families lose income, and communities lose tax revenue."

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Another northern senator added a provision to the bill that would allow some of the money allotted for southern border security to be transferred elsewhere . The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, strikes the requirement that 90 percent of the funds in the border plan go to the southwest border. It also requires that the funding be allocated based on risk, with no specific amount allocated for either the southern or northern border.

"While the southwest border is much more likely to make the evening news, we must not forget about our northern border," Collins said on the Senate floor. "According to a report released by the GAO in 2010, the border patrol had situational awareness of only 25 percent of the 4,000 miles northern border."

An amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., establishes a $1.5 billion "Youth Jobs Fund" that creates work opportunities for 400,000 poor young people between the ages of 16 and 25. Sanders argues the legislation will protect young people from being forced out of the workforce by low-skill immigrant workers once the comprehensive immigration bill passes.

[READ: Does the Hoeven-Corker Immigration Amendment Provide Enough Border Security?]

"With the youth unemployment rate unacceptably high, the youth jobs amendment will put hundreds of thousands of young Americans to work," Sanders said in a released statement. "At a time when real unemployment is close to 14 percent and even higher for young people and minorities, it is absolutely imperative we create millions of decent-paying jobs in this country."

Conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation have seized on the amendment as a sign that the immigration legislation will displace American workers, a talking point Democrats have long dismissed as the GOP's attempt to kill comprehensive immigration reform all together.

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