This just in: Following a similar measure in the House, the Senate passed a $600 million package to improve border security. The funding will pay for 1,500 new National Guard troops along the border, a pair of unmanned aerial drones, and military-style bases on the Mexican border. The legislation is paid for by higher fees on foreign companies who have more than 50 employees here on H-1B work visas, which is a good thing because it means perhaps the Democrats are starting to abide by PAYGO. Politico quotes Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer:
“In my many meetings with folks on the other side of the aisle to try to gain their support for comprehensive reform, I repeatedly heard them say that once we showed we were serious about passing border security legislation, they would be able to begin working with us to fix other aspects of our broken immigration system,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Democrats’ point person on immigration reform.
“It is my hope that the bill we are passing today will break the deadlock that has existed in Congress and will clear the path for us to finally resume bipartisan negotiations in good faith,” Schumer said. “With this bill’s passage today we have clearly shown we are serious about securing our nation’s borders."
This is only a first step, and clearly more needs to be done to secure our borders. But it’s a first step that Republicans stated Democrats needed to take, and to their credit, they have. It’s about time the administration started taking the federal government’s duty to protect our borders seriously. (Democrats should have passed this bill before they filed that lawsuit against the state of Arizona.)
Republicans should give Democrats the benefit of the doubt and move forward on immigration reform now--which hopefully will include additional border security measures beyond this in the legislation. Today’s NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows that more people now think Republicans would do a better job than Democrats in dealing with immigration, by a 32-27 margin. Not exactly a landslide, but it shows Republicans should not be afraid of the issue. Despite what Harry Reid said earlier this week, there are plenty of Hispanics who are Republicans--and plenty of Americans of all stripes who want illegal immigration under control.