Jun 07 2007

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) voted in support of the Inhofe Amendment which declares English the national language of the United States .  The amendment, introduced by Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) was accepted by a vote of 64-33 and is now part of the Senate immigration bill.

“The Inhofe amendment, like many others which have been adopted by the Senate, is moving the immigration bill in the right direction,” said Graham.  “English is the language that unites us as a people and I’m proud to vote for passage of this important amendment.” 

The Inhofe Amendment states that no person has a “right, entitlement or claim to have the Government of the United States or any of its officials or representatives act, communicate, perform or provide services, or provide materials in any language other than English….”

It also makes clear that the U.S. government and federal agencies should “preserve and enhance the role of English as the national language of the United States of America ." 

The Heritage Foundation has called the amendment “both sensible and necessary.”  English First said the amendment “is essential toward moving the Senate immigration bill toward the idea of assimilation.”    

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Jun 06 2007

Graham, Wilson Announce $175 Million Building Project at Fort Jackson

Army Estimates 65-70 percent of the Project Costs will be Spent Locally

WASHINGTON-  U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and U.S. Representative Joe Wilson today announced a $175 million housing project at Fort Jackson.  The Residential Communities Initiative (RCI) project will construct 693 new three and four-bedroom townhouse/duplex and single-family homes; renovate 291 homes; and construct a new community center with basketball and volleyball courts, playground, open-air pavilion, walking trails, and parks.

The RCI is a public/private joint venture between the U.S. Army and GMH/Centex Military Communities, LLC.

“The men and women who serve our nation in uniform deserve access to quality housing,” said Graham.  “This project will provide hundreds of new and renovated homes for the soldiers and the families stationed at Fort Jackson.  It will also provide an economic boost to the local economy.  I’m pleased the Army has decided to move forward on this important project.”

"Providing improved living conditions for our soldiers and their families increases their morale and quality of life,” said Wilson.  “The men and women sacrificing for our country deserve no less than the best.  I am pleased our military families at Fort Jackson will soon have the opportunity to reside in top-notch housing facilities."

According to estimates from the Army, approximately 65-70 percent of the total project cost will be spent locally for subcontractors, building material, and other goods.  Of the total project cost, the Army is investing up to $43.9 million, with the remainder coming from the private sector partner.

The project is expected to be completed in six years.  The new housing will consist of townhouse/duplex and single-family units complete with one to three car garages.  The new homes will feature regional architectural themes, modern interior layouts with abundant storage, and modern energy-saving appliances.

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Jun 06 2007

WASHINGTON-  U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and U.S. Representatives Henry Brown and Joe Wilson today announced the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control will receive a $2,316,000 grant to help administer its coastal zone management (CZM) program.

The funds will provide support for CZM planning, permitting, enforcement, outreach, and technical assistance.  Additionally, funds may be used to support initiatives to create an ocean management plan and to build coastal community resilience to shoreline change.

The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  This award marks the 30th year that NOAA has provided coastal management assistance to South Carolina.

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Jun 01 2007

Three Key Points on Worksite Enforcement Provisions

  1. To crack down on the hiring of illegal workers, the immigration reform bill sets up an Electronic Employment Eligibility Verification System (EEVS) to help employers verify the status of the workers they hire.
  2. Employers will be required to verify the work eligibility of all employees using EEVS and all workers will be required to present stronger and more readily verifiable identification documents.
  3. The legislation imposes stiff new Criminal and Civil penalties on employers who hire illegal workers.

EEVS will Help Employers follow the law and hold Employers who hire Illegal Workers Accountable

  • Under the legislation, a reliable Employment Eligibility Verification System (EEVS) must be established and in use before any temporary worker or V-visas are issued.
  • All employers will be required to use EEVS to verify their employee’s work eligibility.
  • EEVS will be founded on unprecedented sharing of information across numerous electronic databases.  These include:
Social Security Administration records;
State Department passport and visa records (including photographs);

Birth and death records maintained by State Vital Statistics agencies; and

State driver’s license information.
  • For the first time, EEVS will allow employers to verify the authenticity of documents by providing access to identification photographs in government databases.

 

EEVS Will Build Upon the Current Basic Pilot Model

  • Under the Immigration Reform Bill ALL U.S. Employers will be required to use EEVS to verify their Employees' work eligibility.  Under the current system, only a small percentage of U.S. employers participate in Basic Pilot, the voluntary program established to help employers determine the legal status of new hires.  Under the bill, all U.S. employers will be required to check new hires using EEVS after an initial 18-month phase-in.  Within three years, employers must use EEVS to verify the work eligibility of all employees not previously verified through the system. 

 

  • EEVS will require workers to present a limited range of secure Government-Issued or Government-Authorized IDs, which will be checked electronically against Federal and State Databases.  EEVS allows for only a limited range of stronger and more readily verifiable identification documents including: 

 

U.S. Passport issued by the State Department.

 Document issued by DHS or the State Department containing photo, biometrics, other such personal identifying info needed to ensure identity (for non-citizens).

 State-issued, REAL ID Act-compliant license presented along with a Social Security card.

 For a limited period before implementation of the REAL ID Act, a State-issued license with a photograph that can be verified by DHS, presented along with a birth certificate and Social Security card.

 

  • EEVS will allow Employers to access identification photographs in government databases to verify the authenticity of workers' documents.  In addition to the checks against Social Security Administration (SSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) databases now performed under Basic Pilot, EEVS will link to the U.S. Department of State and Departments of Motor Vehicles in individuals States to confirm issuance of identity documents and provide employers with the digital photograph associated with these documents. 

May 29 2007

WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has invited U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters to visit Grand Strand for a first-hand view of the region’s transportation needs.
Graham says Secretary Peters tentatively accepted the invitation several weeks ago and is tentatively scheduled to visit this Friday, June 1. Details of her visit are still being finalized and will be announced in the next several days.
"I am very pleased the Secretary of Transportation is scheduled to visit the Grand Strand," said Graham. "We have very pressing short and long-term transportation needs. This is an opportunity to show Secretary Peters’ first-hand our needs and encourage the department to be a partner in our effort to address them. I appreciate her willingness to come and hear our story."
Graham noted that Secretary Peters has more than a 20 year career addressing transportation needs. She earned a reputation as an innovative problem solver, a force for safety, and an advocate for the effective use of taxpayer dollars.
Peters served as Federal Highway Administrator in 2001 and served in the position until 2005. During her tenure there she placed special emphasis on finding new ways to invest in road and bridge construction. She also pursued innovative public-private partnerships that helped build roads faster and at less expense.
"Tourism is one of the leading industries in our state," said Graham. "I-73 is an incredibly important road for the future of the Grand Strand and really, the entire state. Our local, state, and federal officials understand the importance of this future interstate. Now, we need to impress upon the Secretary of DOT our unified commitment to helping turn it into reality. I think her visit to the Grand Strand will certainly help in the effort."
Graham concluded by noting that many elected officials and local organizations such as the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce, the I-73 Association, and NESA deserve credit for continuing to help push for construction of I-73.
"Pushing I-73 forward truly is a team effort," said Graham.
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May 29 2007

Greenville News says 'Ignoring illegal immigration is not an option'
"Those on the far left in our country demand no punishment for those who ignored our laws by entering the United States illegally. Furthermore, they want no restrictions -- such as a requirement that this nation of immigrants recognize the English language as our common bond -- and they are offended by the notion that our immigration policy should be shaped to meet the economic needs of our nation instead of the welfare needs of other countries.

"Those on the far right refuse to acknowledge that while illegal immigrants broke our laws to get here, they did so with a wink and a nod from the federal government, major corporations and small businesses. And many of those illegal immigrants have contributed to our country by working hard and otherwise respecting our laws. Requiring all 12 million of these people -- or however many it really is -- to "just go back home" isn't an immigration reform plan, it's political posturing that doesn't advance this debate one single inch."

The State 'Compromise bill offers best hope on immigration'
".....this is an issue that needs to be addressed. Our border is too open — to illegal immigrants who often fall prey to traffickers, to smuggled drugs and to intruders with criminal or even terrorist intentions. But that is only half of our problem. The nation has a shadow society already in place, with millions living here outside the bounds of the law. They build our businesses, drive our roads and seek help in our hospitals. Our economy encourages them to come and profits from their labor. The idea that those who wish to stay will be sent packing by the millions is ludicrous. We need a system that offers a route — not a shortcut, but an opportunity to be earned — to enter the legitimate world, where they pay all taxes and obey our laws."

Anderson Independent-Mail 'Bipartisan plan: Graham stuck his neck out politically'
"There's no fully pleasing either side when it comes to immigration issues. The sides don't even agree within their own ranks on all facets of any immigration offering. For some, it's all or nothing. Everybody gets in or nobody gets in. The problem is that is impossible to accomplish. ... We see the path to legal residency and eventual citizenship, with limits on the number of people who can enter the country, as the only way to even partially begin to address illegal immigration. It will reward taking the legal route. And any plan must include requirements for employers to be strict in hiring and assuring that their employees are in this country legally. To deport 12 million people will be not only unbelievably costly but will impact prices of everything from fruits and vegetables to chicken to services."

Spartanburg Herald Journal 'Immigration Compromise'
"The immigration compromise worked out by a bipartisan coalition in Congress has flaws, but if it is left intact, it may be the only real solution the nation has toward improving the illegal immigration problem. ...But the problem is so vast that there doesn't appear to be a better solution. The United States simply cannot round up 12 million illegal immigrants and deport them. It isn't feasible, and even if it were, it wouldn't be healthy for the economy. The nation is forced to come up with a solution to assimilate the millions of illegal immigrants already here. The process outlined in the compromise is reasonable."

 

May 25 2007

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint along with U.S. Representatives Bob Inglis, Gresham Barrett, and Joe Wilson today announced the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) plans to open two new community-based clinics in Aiken and Spartanburg.

The clinics were among 38 approved in 22 states by VA Secretary James Nicholson.

"I’m very pleased with the decision by Secretary Nicholson and the VA to open two new clinics in South Carolina," said Graham. "Our state has a long and proud tradition of military service. We also have a large number of veterans who depend on the VA for their health care. The Bush Administration listened to the congressional delegation’s request for additional VA health care capacity and they responded. I appreciate their concern, understanding, and appreciation for the well-being of those who have served our nation."

"Our nation’s veterans have sacrificed so much for our freedom and we must continue to honor them by ensuring they have the quality care they deserve. I'm pleased with the decision of the Department of Veterans Affairs to open these important clinics to serve South Carolina's veterans," said Senator DeMint.

"The Spartanburg clinic will be a great service to the veterans in the Fourth District, and we appreciate the Veterans Administration responding to the need here," said Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC).

"As a fellow armed forces Veteran, I am aware and thankful of the great sacrifices our military men and women make ensuring the safety of our country and protecting the health of democracy," said Congressman Gresham Barrett. "Funding for these two clinics comes as good news to the Aiken and Spartanburg communities.  Veterans in the area will now have access to facilities close to home that will give them the support services and quality of care they deserve and have earned."

"This clinic will enhance the quality of life of South Carolina veterans, addressing their healthcare needs and expanding accessibility to available services. I am pleased the VA has chosen Aiken in the Second Congressional District as the site for this new facility," said Wilson.

 

The new facilities, called community-based outpatient clinics, or CBOCs, will become operational in 2007 and 2008. Local VA officials will keep communities and their veterans informed of milestones in the creation of the new CBOCs.

Aiken

The Aiken CBOC is projected to open nine months after receipt of approval. Its parent VA Medical Center (VAMC) will be the Augusta VA Medical Center.

Services will include comprehensive primary care, health promotion, maintenance, routine/urgent care procedures and education. Mental Health Services will include a wide range of outpatient mental health services to include medication management, substance abuse treatment/counseling, individual and group counseling, and assessment/evaluation and/or therapy.

Routine specialty care consults will normally be referred to the parent facility or to the local community on a fee for service arrangement. Basic x-rays will be delivered to the parent station and invasive radiology or more complex diagnostic imaging procedures will be referred to the Parent VAMC. Emergent care will be obtained at the nearest hospital. Laboratory services will be provided by the parent station or a contract provider. Parent VAMC, through the CMOP, will provide all routine medications.

It is anticipated that 4617existing patients and 469 new patients will be treated at the CBOC.

Spartanburg

The Spartanburg CBOC is projected to open six to nine months after receipt of approval. Its parent VAMC will be the Columbia VA Medical Center.

Services will include comprehensive primary care, health promotion, maintenance, routine/urgent care procedures and education. TeleMentalHealth services will be instituted initially, utilizing the planned Mental Health staff at Spartanburg.

Routine specialty care consults will normally be referred to the parent facility. Basic x-rays will be delivered to the parent station and invasive radiology or more complex diagnostic imaging procedures will be referred to the Columbia VAMC. Emergent care will be obtained at the nearest hospital. Laboratory services will be provided by the parent station. Columbia VAMC, through the CMOP, will provide all routine medications.

It is anticipated that 3068 existing patients and 756 new patients will be treated at the CBOC.

With 153 hospitals and more than 700 community-based clinics, VA operates the largest integrated health care system in the country. VA’s health care budget of more than $34 billion this year will provide health care to about 5.5 million people during nearly 800,000 hospitalizations and 60 million outpatient visits.

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May 25 2007

WASHINGTON-  U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) made the following statement on the Iraq supplemental funding bill.  The bill was passed by the Congress last night, and President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law today.

Graham said:

“Our nation cannot afford to lose the war in Iraq.

“Like many Americans, I was embarrassed and disappointed it took Congress so long to provide our military with the funding they need.  American troops expect and deserve our full support.

“Last night, I voted in support of the supplemental funding request for our troops.  After weeks of delay, we finally got a bill that provides funding without instituting deadlines and timelines undercutting the war effort.  Timelines for withdrawal would have brought the political and economic reconciliation among Iraqis to a screeching halt.  It would have been a death sentence for moderate Iraqis trying to bring stability to their country.  As for our American troops, those who would have been left to serve while waiting for the withdrawal day, it would have been asking them to risk their lives without purpose.

“Unfortunately, there are spending items in the bill unrelated to the military effort.  Congress should not take legitimate needs like military spending and add unrelated items.

“As part of the War on Terror, Iraq is a test of wills – our will to succeed versus our enemy’s will to drive us out.  It’s in our national interest to stand by peaceful Iraqis and against the extremists who not only want to destroy Iraq, but our own way of life.”

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May 24 2007

Greenville News Editorial Page Editor Beth Padgett "....on its face, the plan does what we on the editorial page -- and many people who desperately want this issued solved -- have demanded. It proposes ways to secure our borders, crack down on employers who hire illegals, make it tougher to hire illegals. And, yes, it proposes a common-sense way to give legal status to most of those here illegally."

Orangeburg Times & Democrat Editorial 'Immigration Compromise is Realism' "And extreme is what both sides advocate. The reality of deporting 12 million Mexicans is about as realistic a solution as simply opening the borders. Call it an amnesty program or not, there must be some kind of provision for allowing those in the country illegally to move toward citizenship. As impractical as trying to find and deport them is, it also would be devastating to the American economy. ... Continuing to oppose all efforts at compromise on immigration only makes it longer before there is agreement on how to secure our borders to stop the wave of immigrants from Mexico. Border security is as essential to dealing with the immigration crisis as is an answer to what to do about the illegals in the country now."

Conservative Columnist Bob Novak, 'Immigration Trap for GOP Candidates' "Why are the [Republican] party faithful throughout the country so incensed by immigration? When I asked [Lindsey] Graham, he quoted from a federal government report on the new arrivals to this country, "largely unskilled laborers" and heavily illiterate: "The new immigration has provoked a widespread feeling of apprehension as to its effect on the economic and social welfare of the country." The report, by the U.S. Immigration Commission, was dated 1911. When Graham returned to Washington Monday as the immigration debate began, he read the 96-year-old quote into the Senate record to demonstrate that fear of foreigners is not new for Americans. This nation of immigrants has greeted successive waves of newcomers with apprehension stoked by demagogues. It has overcome such past xenophobic impulses. But that will be more difficult in an era of Internet bloggers and radio talkers......"

Wall Street Journal Editorial on 'Immigration and Welfare' "One place to start is a myth that has become a key talking point among restrictionists on the right -- to wit, that immigrants come to the U.S. for a life of ease on the public dole. Leading this charge is the Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector....Mr. Rector and Heritage have done some good social science research in the past, but this time they have the story backward: In most cases immigrants will pay at least as much in lifetime federal taxes as they receive in benefits. One basic flaw in the Heritage analysis is that, as a study by the Immigration Policy Center points out: "The vast majority of immigrants are not eligible to receive any of these [welfare] benefits for many years after their arrival in the United States. . . . Legal permanent residents cannot receive SSI [Supplemental Security Income], which is available only to U.S. citizens, and are not eligible for means-tested public benefits until 5 years after receiving their green cards."

Conservative Columnist David Brooks of the New York Times "The United States is the Harvard of the world. Millions long to get in. Yet has this country set up an admissions system that encourages hard work, responsibility and competition? No. Under our current immigration system, most people get into the U.S. through criminality, nepotism or luck. The current system does almost nothing to encourage good behavior or maximize the nation's supply of human capital. Which is why the immigration deal reached in the Senate last week is, on balance, a good thing. It creates a new set of incentives for immigrants and potential immigrants. It encourages good behavior, in the manner of a demanding (though overly harsh) admissions officer. It rewards the bourgeois virtues that have always been at the heart of this nation's immigrant success, and goes some way to assure that the people who possess these virtues can become U.S. citizens."

 

 

May 23 2007

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today introduced an amendment to the Senate immigration bill which institutes mandatory minimum prison sentences for illegal immigrants who cross our nations' borders.

 

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that between 20 and 30 percent of all of the illegal immigrants physically removed from the United States try to return. In 2004, 169,000 illegal immigrants were removed and nearly 65,000 returned. In 2006, there were 195,000 removals and 37,000 returns.

"One of the biggest flaws in our current immigration system is that repeated, illegal border crossings are not considered criminal events," said Graham. "The Graham amendment requires mandatory jail time for those who continue to violate our border. This is a major, long overdue and much-needed change in our immigration policies."

Illegal aliens deported from the United States who return will face stiff penalties.

  • The first reentry offense is a mandatory minimum of 60 days to a maximum of 1 year in jail before again being deported.

     

  • The second offense is a minimum of 60 days to a maximum of 2 years in jail before again being deported.

     

  • For the third and subsequent offenses, the illegal alien would serve at least 2 years to a maximum of 10 years in prison before being deported again.

"The amendment will allow our Border Patrol agents and courts to forcefully deal with illegal reentry," said Graham. "After 9-11, we must show the world we are serious and have the national will to impose prison sentences on those who illegally enter our country."

Graham noted the amendment contains even stiffer penalties for illegal aliens who have committed serious crimes, served their time, been deported, and then reentered the United States.

  • An illegal alien who has spent 5 years in prison or an illegal alien with 3 or more felonies would serve a minimum of 4 years to a maximum of 20 for illegal reentry.

     

  • An illegal alien convicted of a violent crime such as murder, rape, or terrorism would serve a minimum of 5 years to a maximum of 20 years for illegal reentry.

"There have been thousands of illegal immigrants prosecuted for serious crimes, served their time in jail, been deported and then illegally returned," said Graham. "We are serious about the violations of our immigration laws and this amendment helps makes clear protection of the border is the first order of business in immigration reform."

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