May 17 2006

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today supported construction of at least 370 miles of triple-layer fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers at strategic locations along the U.S. – Mexico border. The new fencing will primarily be constructed in urban areas where today immigrants can literally walk into the United States. “The first issue to address in immigration reform must be border security,” said Graham. “Our borders are clearly broken. Over the last decade, the number of people illegally crossing the border has dramatically increased. There’s no doubt we must do more to improve the security of our border and I’m glad our comprehensive immigration reform legislation addresses this important issue.” The amendment was offered by U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) and passed the Senate by a vote of 83-16. Graham noted the triple-layer fencing would be similar to the San Diego Border Fence, a state-of-the-art nearly impenetrable barrier which has made illegal entry into the U.S. much more difficult. “San Diego was once a haven for illegal crossings but the barrier nearly stopped the flood of border crossings from Mexico,” said Graham. “It worked and I believe we should expand it to protect additional miles of our border, particularly the urban border areas.” Graham noted that in addition to the Sessions amendment, the immigration reform bill has other provisions which toughen border security. They include the hiring of an additional 12,000 Border Patrol agents over the next five years and creation of a ‘virtual’ fence relying on cameras, motion detectors, and other technological devices to prevent illegal crossings in remote locations. The legislation also calls for the creation of additional fencing and barriers. “We must physically secure our border and that means more fencing, more barriers, and the use of more technology at our border,” said Graham. “Tougher border security is a vital and necessary component in comprehensive immigration reform. I’m pleased the Senate agreed to this amendment and look forward to tightening security along our nation’s borders.” #####

May 15 2006

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint today announced Spartanburg Technical College will receive a $1.25 million economic development grant. The funds will be used to help build a business and industry technical training facility to serve existing and new private industry locating in Spartanburg. According to figures supplied by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the project is expected to create 545 jobs and generate $100 million in private investment. “This is great news for Spartanburg,” said Graham. “This new facility will help Spartanburg Tech train and prepare a 21st Century workforce for competition in the global economy. Investments like this are a key ingredient in driving future economic development and making South Carolina a great place to do business.” “This investment will take advantage of the competitive strengths of South Carolina’s marketplace and increase the number of high-skill employment opportunities in our state,” said Graham. “I appreciate the leadership of President Bush and Secretary Gutierrez in helping America’s communities grow their economies and enable our workforce.” The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. ####

May 15 2006

A Roadmap to Immigration Reform

NOTE: This op-ed appeared in papers throughout South Carolina beginning Sunday, May 14, 2006.

South Carolinians are frustrated with our immigration system. They know the system is broken and we all pay the price. It’s a concern I share, along with President Bush, who I recently met with at the White House to discuss this issue. As a former border-state governor, he clearly understands the seriousness of the immigration problem facing our nation and the need to comprehensively address the problem. So how do we get a handle on a situation currently out-of-control? First, we must secure our borders. Over the last decade, the number of people illegally crossing the border has dramatically increased. Without better border security any congressional immigration reform is going to fail. Under the Senate immigration compromise I support, we will authorize the hiring of 12,000 new Border Patrol agents over the next 5 years. We also create fences and walls in certain high-traffic areas to prevent illegal crossing. In other areas, we create a ‘virtual’ fence which relies on cameras, motion detectors and other technological devices. I authored a provision, accepted in committee, which gets more individuals with military backgrounds into the Border Patrol. Due to modernization, in the coming years we’re expected to have a reduced number of people serving in some areas of the military. These veterans, with years of military experience and training, are excellent candidates to serve in our expanded Border Patrol. Second, increase employer enforcement and verification of legal workers. Comprehensive immigration reform should simplify our laws to solve the problems facing employers. In the compromise, we establish an efficient worker verification system that lets employers know if the person standing before them can legally work in the United States. Particularly important is preventing the rampant fraud in our current system where Social Security numbers and drivers licenses are fraudulently procured. Replacing that system with a tamper-proof verification card containing fingerprints and other identifying data of guest workers would be beneficial. After reforming the system and giving employers the opportunity to comply with new laws, it’s imperative we have the national will to punish employers who intentionally break the law. We have been too lax in enforcement of our employment laws. With winks-and-nods people looked the other way as illegal immigrants filled positions. As a result the illegal workforce has become firmly entrenched in some of our state’s largest and most important industries such as agriculture, construction, and tourism. Third, address the estimated eleven million illegal immigrants in the U.S. We must come up with an honest and rational solution on how to treat those who are already in this country illegally. Like President Bush, I don’t think we’re physically able remove eleven million illegal immigrants. We do not have the resources or detention space to do this. Also, an immediate roundup and deportation of this workforce would send our economy into a tailspin. This ‘solution’ is simply not an option. The Senate compromise brings illegal immigrants already in the U.S. more than two years out of the shadows and requires them to meet rigorous standards in order to remain in our country. In essence, we place them on 11 years of probation. The terms are strict but fair. They will have to register with the government, be proficient in English, show proof of employment, pay $2,000 in fines, undergo 2 extensive and comprehensive background checks to ensure they do not have a criminal record or pose a danger to society, pay back taxes, and attend a class on American civics. Failure to meet any of these requirements would result in deportation. Guest-workers must meet very strict criteria over an eleven year period before going to the back of the line to apply for citizenship. The program isn’t amnesty. Amnesty is what President Carter gave to draft dodgers who fled to Canada. Our immigration system has been in disarray for so long there are generations of families with legal and illegal members. Some families have parents here illegally and children that are American citizens. Some husbands are illegal while the wives are legal. More importantly, there are many military members, particularly young Hispanic Marines serving in Iraq and Afghanistan who are legal citizens by virtue of being born in America. They have chosen to fight and die for their country. Creating felons out of their parents, illegally in the country, is not going to make America a better place. The last days of the Senate session before Easter recess represented the best and worst of the United States Senate. Our comprehensive immigration reform bill combining border security, employer verification, and guest-worker provisions would have garnered near 70 votes on the Senate floor. The substance of the deal held, only to be hijacked by the unfair procedural tactics of Democratic Leader Harry Reid. It’s now time for the Senate to get back to work.

May 15 2006

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said he supports the temporary use of National Guard troops to help secure our nation’s southern border. Graham is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Personnel of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“As a short-term measure, I support the use of National Guard troops at the border,” said Graham. “The Guard can act as a force multiplier freeing up more Border Patrol agents to pursue and apprehend those illegally crossing into the United States. This use of the Guard, on a temporary basis, makes sense and will be a shot in the arm to our border security efforts.”

“However, putting National Guard troops at the border is not a long-term strategy,” said Graham. “It should only be used until we can get an expanded Border Patrol up and running. An expanded Border Patrol, along with the use of additional fences, walls, and technology, are key ingredients in regaining control of our broken southern border.”

Graham noted the compromise immigration reform bill before the Senate authorizes the hiring of an additional 12,000 Border Patrol agents over the next five years. The compromise also calls for the building of fences and walls in certain high-traffic areas to prevent illegal crossings. In other areas, a ‘virtual’ fence relying on cameras, motion detectors, and other technological devices will be created.

Graham also authored a provision, accepted in committee, which gets more individuals with military backgrounds into the Border Patrol. Due to modernization, in the coming years we’re expected to have a reduced number of people serving in some areas of the military. These veterans, with years of military experience and training, are excellent candidates to serve in our expanded Border Patrol.

“Protecting the border is basically a law enforcement function,” said Graham. “While we do have military police units in the Guard, many of them have been activated several times in the War on Terror. I worry the Guard doesn’t have the manpower to handle a long-term deployment protecting the border.

“The Guard is already on call to assist with future hurricane relief efforts and would be needed if another terrorist attack occurred on American soil,” said Graham. “If this mission were to last more than eighteen to twenty-four months, we could end up doing more harm than good by making it more difficult to recruit and retain Guard members.”

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May 15 2006

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint today announced the Genetics Endowment of South Carolina, Inc., in Greenwood will receive a $370,000 grant for infrastructure improvements. The funds will be used to help build roadway and storm-water infrastructure for the development of a 189-acre technology park that will serve new private technology and research development firms locating in Greenwood. According to figures supplied by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the investment will help attract $12 million in private investment and create 43 jobs for local citizens. “This is an investment in the future,” said Graham. “Infrastructure improvements are a vital part of competing for future business recruitment and economic development opportunities.” “This investment will take advantage of the competitive strengths of South Carolina’s marketplace and increase the number of high-skill employment opportunities in our state,” said Graham. “I appreciate the leadership of President Bush and Secretary Gutierrez in helping America’s communities grow their economies and enable our workforce.” The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. ####

May 12 2006

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement on President Bush’s decision to address the nation on immigration reform and upcoming Senate debate. Bush is scheduled to address the nation on Monday and Senate debate will begin next week. Graham said: “Like most Americans I anxiously await the President’s speech on immigration. President Bush deserves credit for making this issue part of the national debate. With his leadership, I think we can pass comprehensive immigration reform into law this year. I also strongly believe the President’s recent Oval Office meeting with a bipartisan group of Senators helped create a climate to move immigration reform forward. “Senator Frist also deserves credit for his work on this issue. We have broken borders, unworkable laws, and an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the country. The fact the Senate is able to bring such a controversial piece of legislation to the floor is a testament to the work done by Senator Frist. The process he helped negotiate should be fair to all with adequate opportunity for amendments and debate. “It’s now time for the Senate to speak on immigration reform.” #####

May 12 2006

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced $1.2 million in brownfield grants for Columbia, Florence, Greenville, and Rock Hill. Brownfield grants promote the redevelopment of abandoned and contaminated or potentially contaminated industrial and commercial waste sites. Columbia The City of Columbia will receive a $200,000 hazardous substances grant to conduct public involvement activities, inventory sites, perform environmental site assessments, monitor resident health, and develop cleanup and redevelopment plans for affected neighborhoods in the city’s Empowerment Zone. The city will also receive a $200,000 petroleum grant to perform similar tasks at sites with potential petroleum contamination, especially in the East Central City and Eau Claire/North Columbia communities. Florence The City of Florence will receive a $200,000 hazardous substances grant to conduct community outreach, perform environmental site assessments, and develop cleanup and redevelopment plans for a 20-acre area known as the Triangle. The city will also receive a $200,000 grant to clean up hazardous substances co-mingled with petroleum contamination at the former Bush Recycling site. Greenville The City of Greenville will receive a $200,000 hazardous substance grant to support health monitoring activities, conduct community outreach, perform environmental site assessments, and develop cleanup and redevelopment plans in the West Greenville/Reedy River corridor. Rock Hill The Catawba Regional Council of Governments will receive a $200,000 hazardous substances grant to inventory and prioritize brownfield sites, conduct community outreach, perform environmental site assessments, and develop reuse plans for sites in the urban core of Rock Hill. The grants were awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. ####

May 11 2006

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement on the Treasury report saying China is not a manipulator of its currency. “The continued practice of the Chinese manipulating their currency is devastating to American manufacturers. We had good meetings with the Chinese on our visit in March, but if that's mistaken for an abandonment of the issue that would be a mistake on their part. “We’ll see what happens between now and the end of September. But if the yuan does not appreciate in a significant manner between now and then, we’ll have a vote on our bill. If it comes to a vote, I think we’ll get more than the 67 votes we received in April 2005.” Graham, along with U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has introduced legislation allowing for a 180-day negotiation period between the United States and China on currency revaluation. If the negotiations are not successful, a temporary across the board tariff of 27.5 percent will be applied to all Chinese products entering the United States. The bill received 67 votes in April 2005 on a procedural motion. The Senators reserve the right to call it up for a Senate vote on passage before September 30, 2006. #####

May 11 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) today released the following joint statement regarding the unanimous consent agreement to bring comprehensive immigration reform legislation back to the Senate floor Monday: “Under the unanimous consent agreement reached today, the Senate will resume the immigration debate next week. Senate Republicans are united in their commitment to an open and full debate on multiple amendments -- just as we have done on other bills of this magnitude like bankruptcy and class action reform. “We are willing to put differences aside so we can get on with the important work to be done securing our borders and grappling with the 12 million illegal immigrants currently living in our country. We are also in agreement that efforts to curtail the debate prematurely will only derail this process. We call on Senate Democrats to allow an open debate and votes on this complex and challenging issue.” ###

May 11 2006

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today voted in support of $70 billion in tax relief over the next five years. The measure passed the Senate 54-44. The bill has passed the House of Representatives and President Bush is expected to sign it into law. Graham made this statement after the Senate vote. “I firmly believe our tax cutting policies over the past few years are a major reason our national economy is performing so well. Tax relief helped create one of the strongest economic expansions in years and a national unemployment rate below 5 percent. Also, since the first Bush tax cuts were enacted, revenues to the federal treasury have gone up. “Our latest extension of tax relief will also be helpful in continuing to push our economy forward. I enthusiastically supported today’s tax stimulus package and look forward to President Bush signing it into law. “Unfortunately, many of our Democratic friends have opposed us in our tax cutting efforts at every turn. If the Democrats were in charge, nothing would have changed and Americans would still be paying higher taxes.” #####