In an attempt to address Republican concerns about the "gang of eight" immigration bill, two senators Thursday announced an amendment that would strengthen border security. It will require the implementation of more security measures before those immigrants already in the country that desire a green card can begin that process.
The amendment, offered by Republican Sens. John Hoeven, N.D., and Bob Corker, Tenn., would add 20,000 border agents and finish 700 miles of fencing. It would also add an entry-exit point to the border and implement a new program to stop immigrants without the appropriate paperwork from getting jobs in the United States. These conditions would have to be met before any immigrants were allowed to pursue the immigration bill’s path to lawful permanent resident status.
"The American people want a strong, comprehensive immigration reform plan, but we need to get it right," Hoeven said. "That means first and foremost securing the southern border before we address other meaningful reforms to our immigration policy. They want to know that ten years from now, we won’t find ourselves in this same position, having to address the same problem."
Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he hopes to vote on the bipartisan immigration bill before the July 4 congressional recess, but some Republicans have been hesitant to support the bill because they say it amounts to amnesty. Corker said that the inclusion of his proposed border security amendment would guarantee his vote for the immigration bill as a whole, but Hoeven said he would have to see what other amendments are included before he voices his support. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who voted against introducing the immigration bill to the Senate floor for debate, said he would support the final legislation if it included tougher border security measures.
But Border Network for Human Rights Executive Director Fernando Garcia said the "border triggers" would "hold citizenship hostage:"
This is an outrageous plan that was struck without consulting with people who live and work on the border. It only adds to a system that we all agree is dysfunctional and accountable to the people. The most obscene element of the plan is that it would create a militarized border between allied nations where there is no military conflict. We remind the Senators that more than 6 million people live on the U.S. side of the border and this plan puts their rights, lives and prosperity at risk.
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