Senate Approves Immigration Bill Amendment that will Further Militarize U.S.-Mexico Border

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Posted June 26, 2013

Interview with Keith Rushing, communications director with the Rights Working Group, conducted by Scott Harris

immigration

A bi-partisan group of eight U.S. Senators came together early in 2013 to announce their framework for immigration reform legislation that includes a chance for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. to earn citizenship. Provisions of the bill include a wait of 13 years or more for most unauthorized immigrants before they can become citizens; stringent border enforcement and deportation measures; mandate that employers use an electronic eligibility verification system and requirement that undocumented residents register with the government, pay fines and back taxes.

But with a revolt of the bill’s early GOP Senate supporters who demanded ever harsher and more expensive border security measures, two Republican senators, Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota, proposed and passed an amendment that would provide $40 billion to double the number of federal border patrol agents from 20,000 to near 40,000 and the completion of the 700-mile border fence. The amendment, that passed by a 67 to 27 vote, will also provide funds for increased border surveillance with drone aircraft and thermal imaging cameras. As the measure is written, the new security plan must be implemented before undocumented immigrants can be granted legal, permanent resident status. Many immigration reform advocates criticized the amendment as authorizing the unnecessary militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border.

While the success of the Senate border security amendment was seen as a victory for winning over a filibuster-proof majority, the debate will soon move to the House of Representatives, where many “Tea Party” Republicans staunchly oppose the bill for its path to citizenship for the undocumented. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Keith Rushing, communications director with the Rights Working Group, who takes a critical look at the significant compromises now being made to win congressional passage of comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

For more perspectives on the national debate on immigration reform, visit the Rights Working Group at rightsworkinggroup.org.

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