May 26 2006

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today voted to confirm General Michael Hayden to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Hayden was confirmed by a vote of 78-15. After the vote Graham made the following statement: “General Hayden brings an unrivaled depth of experience to the CIA from his time at the National Security Agency and his years of military service. I believe he is the right man at the right time to continue to rebuild the CIA in a fashion that will better protect our nation in the War on Terror. “He is replacing a good man in Porter Goss. I am confident he will build on the successes and reforms instituted by Director Goss, while at the same time remaining his own man. “President Bush has chosen wisely in his selection of General Hayden. All of his experience throughout the years in the intelligence community will help to make America more secure.” ####

May 26 2006

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit. Kavanaugh was confirmed by a vote of 57-36. After the vote Graham made the following statement: “Brett Kavanaugh is an outstanding selection by President Bush to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court. He served in the Bush administration, was an advocate before the Supreme Court for the Solicitor General’s office, and was chosen to be a Supreme Court clerk. He has excelled academically and professionally. “Mr. Kavanaugh is a solid conservative with a deep understanding of our legal system. He also has real world legal experience that will serve our nation for years to come. I’m pleased the Senate has confirmed him to this important position at such a crucial time in American legal history.” ####

May 26 2006

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement of support for Susan Schwab, President Bush’s nominee for United States Trade Representative (USTR). “I strongly support the nomination of Susan Schwab to serve as our United States Trade Representative. She is an excellent choice and will serve our nation with distinction. “The USTR has become more important than ever in terms of protecting American economic interests from unfair overseas practices. Ms. Schwab understands that it is now time for America to push back against Chinese trade manipulation and other unfair practices. She will be aggressive advocate for American business interests and will continue to build on the success of Rob Portman. “I look forward to seeing her confirmed and will continue to encourage my Senate colleagues to allow a quick vote on this matter. There is overwhelming support for her nomination and the sooner we act on this nomination the better.” ####

May 25 2006

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today was pleased the Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform. The vote in the Senate was 62-36. “Our borders are broken,” said Graham. “We don’t have control over who comes into the country and how they get jobs. Today we made progress in addressing the immigration problems facing our nation. “The support shown today in the Senate is consistent with the American people’s desire to find a comprehensive solution to our immigration problems,” said Graham. “They want better border security, tougher employer enforcement provisions, and a process to deal with the estimated 11 million undocumented workers currently in the United States. “I want to thank President Bush for pushing the Senate and nation forward to address this important issue,” said Graham. “President Bush’s advocating the need to have a comprehensive solution has been well-received. We will need for him to continue to be involved to help push us to an agreement with the House of Representatives. Senator Frist also deserves a great deal of credit for designing a process that allowed sincere and honest debate.” Graham noted the Senate bill was strengthened by the adoption of several amendments. These include: * English is declared the national language of the United States. * 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 fines for undocumented workers to enter a guest worker program were raised from $2,000 to $3,200. (NOTE: The provisions requiring undocumented workers to register with the government, be proficient in English, show proof of employment, undergo two 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 were unchanged and remain in the Senate bill.) * The use of up to 6,000 of National Guard troops to help secure our nation’s southern border. “There is broad agreement among Americans that we must do more to protect our nation’s border,” said Graham. “There is also broad agreement that we need a system in place to match employers with willing guest workers in those positions where no American worker is readily available. The big question, and the one which generates the most controversy, is how do you deal with the estimated 11 million undocumented workers already in the United States? “Our nation does not have the means or the will to deport 11 million people,” said Graham. “This solution is not practical and is not a reasonable option. The Senate bill comes up with a just punishment and probationary system, while not perfect, that begins to bring some order to the chaos that exists right now.” #####

May 24 2006

WASHINTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement on the cloture vote on immigration. The 73-25 vote moves immigration reform toward final Senate passage. He also commented on the immigration reform proposal made by Congressman Pence. Graham said: “The overwhelming bipartisan vote for cloture ensures final passage will occur and immigration reform will not be filibustered. It’s a validation the process was fair to all. Senator Frist and Reid deserve great credit for designing a process that allowed sincere and honest debate on immigration reform to occur. Bipartisanship was the big winner. “The overwhelming vote is in-line with the American peoples desire to find a comprehensive solution to the problem. It’s also a rejection of a small minority who believe inaction is an appropriate response. “President Bush also deserves credit for pushing the Senate forward to address this important issue. President Bush’s advocating the need to have a comprehensive solution has been well-received. Those who believe it is better to do nothing are misjudging the desire of the American people who want better border security, employer enforcement and a way to deal with the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already in the United States. “Looking ahead, I’m also very encouraged by the constructive proposals being made by conservative leaders in the House of Representatives like Congressman Pence. I believe many Republicans in the House understand it is time to comprehensively address this problem. After the Senate completes work on its bill, I look forward to working with the House to comprehensively address this important issue.” #####

May 19 2006

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today voted in support of an amendment making English the national language of the United States. The amendment was offered by U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and passed the Senate by a vote of 63-34. “At every turn, we ought to reinforce the fact that for successful assimilation to take place, immigrants should become proficient in English,” said Graham. “English is the language of the United States.” Graham noted a major feature of the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill includes a provision requiring undocumented workers to be proficient in English before they can apply for citizenship. An immigration reform bill passed by the House of Representatives does not contain a similar provision. In addition to the English proficiency requirement, undocumented workers must also register with the government, show proof of employment, pay $2,000 in fines, undergo two 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 over an eleven-year period would result in deportation. “Failure to learn English should disqualify any undocumented worker from participating in the reform proposals we are debating in the Senate,” said Graham. “It’s essential that undocumented workers who come out of the shadows become proficient in English. Failure to do so will lead to their deportation from the United States.” #####

May 18 2006

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today voted in support of the Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution. The amendment passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 10-8 vote. It is scheduled to come before the full Senate this summer. Graham said: “Traditional marriage is now under attack. That’s why I support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. “Marriage is one of the oldest and strongest institutions in our culture. If someone wants to change what marriage means, it should come about through the constitutional process and actions of the peoples’ elected representatives, not the courts.” #####

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.