Mar 27 2006
Wes Hickman (202) 224-5972 or Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said the Senate Judiciary Committee has completed its work on comprehensive immigration reform. The vote in committee was 12-6 with Graham voting in support. The Committee had completed work on the sections of the bill toughening protection of the border making it tougher for illegal immigrants to enter the United States. Today, the committee worked on how to handle the estimated eleven million illegal immigrants currently in the United States. “The Senate’s first step in comprehensive immigration reform was to physically tighten protection of the southern border,” said Graham. “In committee, we have created a virtual fence along parts of our southern border which relies on cameras, motion detectors and other technological devices to keep people from entering the United States illegally. While many issues surrounding immigration reform are contentious, there is broad agreement among Republicans and Democrats that maintaining the status quo along the southern border is simply unacceptable.” Graham expressed support for a real fence where practical. It would be similar to the San Diego Border Fence, a state-of-the-art nearly impenetrable barrier which made illegal entry into our nation much more difficult. The San Diego area was once a haven for illegal crossings but the Border Fence nearly stopped the flood of border crossings from Mexico into the area. Unfortunately, there is not enough support in the Senate Judiciary Committee for construction of a Border Fence. “Today we moved on to the next phase of immigration reform and that’s what to do with the estimated eleven million immigrants who are already in the United States,” said Graham. “We have to come to grips with the fact that we have eleven million undocumented people in the country right now. The idea of telling them to go home and come back later is unrealistic. It would also cost $40 billion a year to deport all illegal immigrants currently in the United States.” “The guest worker program which passed the committee would allow immigrants to come out of the shadows, undergo a comprehensive background check, pay a fine, pay their back taxes, and then work in the United States,” said Graham. “It’s a process which will make our nation more secure by helping kick out the bad apples, allowing those who wish to work to continue doing so and benefit our national economy.” The process for an immigrant who entered the country illegally to continue working includes an assortment of fines, background checks, employment verification, and education in civics and English. “Amnesty grants immigrants immediate citizenship and that’s why I oppose amnesty,” said Graham. “Anyone trying to become a citizen under the guest-worker program must meet very strict criteria over an eleven year period. Ronald Reagan, one of our greatest presidents, tried amnesty and it failed. We should not repeat that mistake.” To receive a work visa, illegal immigrants would be forced to: 1) Register with the government or face deportation. 2) Pay a $1,000 fine. 3) Undergo an extensive and comprehensive background check to ensure they do not have a criminal record or pose a danger to society. 4) Show proof of employment. 5) Continue to remain employed while in the United States. Lack of employment longer than 45 days results in deportation. After six years of work in the United States, they could apply for a second five year extension. Immigrants would be forced to: 6) Pay another $1,000 fine. 7) Undergo a second comprehensive background check to ensure they do not have a criminal record or pose a danger to society. 8) Pay any back taxes. 9) Attend a class on American civics. 10) Learn to speak English. 11) Upon completion of these requirements, they would go to the back of the line to apply for permanent resident alien status. 12) After another five years (a total of 11 years after first registering) they would be eligible to apply to become an American citizen. Graham noted that while President Bush has not endorsed a specific guest worker plan, the proposal passed by the committee today is similar to what the President has discussed. “In some ways, we’re hypocritical as a nation,” said Graham. “We want the benefit of the labor, but we haven’t come to grips with how they should be allowed into the country. There are many industries in South Carolina and across the country which are dependent upon this workforce.” ###### Immigration Reform and a Guest Worker Program Question: Is this amnesty? Answer: No. An amnesty proposal would grant illegal immigrants an automatic pardon and put on the fast-track to citizenship. On the contrary, this reform penalizes them for coming to the United States illegally. The bill requires undocumented workers to come forward and register with the government. They will be required to pay a substantial fine– a total of $2,000 – to participate in the temporary worker program. They will have to meet a prospective work requirement – six more years on the job – before they can apply for a permanent visa. Only those who can prove that they are learning English and who have gone through rigorous criminal background checks and security screenings will be permitted to apply. No one will be granted automatic permanent resident status, nor will they permitted to “jump the line” ahead of those who are waiting to enter through a legal process. In fact, they will be sent to the back of the line. Question: Why do we need a guest worker program? Answer: Our broken immigration system doesn’t work. The current immigration system provides so few legal channels for foreign workers that it all but guarantees an illegal flow. Businesses can’t find the labor they need forcing entire industries to operate on the wrong side of the law. Millions of foreign workers live in the country illegally today. It’s a nightmare for them, an affront to the rule of law and an unacceptable security risk for all Americans. Question: Will a guest worker proposal enhance our national security? Answer: A guest worker program enhances security within the United States by encouraging millions of currently undocumented workers to come forward and register with the government. Registering will help shrink and eventually eliminate the undocumented population. This will help dry up the smuggling trade and put document forgers out of business. In the process it also deprives would-be terrorists of the illegal support system they could exploit in immigrant communities. Question: Don’t temporary or guest workers undercut American workers by taking their jobs? Answer: No. As study after study of the labor market shows, American workers don’t generally compete with immigrants – they don’t generally want the low-paying, low-skilled jobs that immigrant workers come to fill. Our native-born work force is getting older and our birth rates are falling. As a nation we are more and more educated. In 1960, half of all American men dropped out of high school and went into the unskilled labor force. Today only 10 percent of the native-born drop out. And few American families now raise their children to be busboys or to work out in the fields. Furthermore, the comprehensive immigration reform before the Senate Judiciary Committee includes a variety of measures designed to protect U.S. workers. The legislation mandates that employers who are considering hiring an immigrant worker must first try to hire a U.S. worker, advertising all available jobs for two weeks on an electronic job registry. That registry will be accessible on the web to an interested U.S. worker, and the Department of Labor will circulate it to public employment services across the country. After three years – and every three years after that - employers will also be required to re-advertise the jobs held by temporary workers, guaranteeing that immigrants are not displacing Americans who are qualified and available to fill the same jobs. Finally, employers will be prohibited from hiring foreigners to replace striking workers or those who have been recently fired. Question: Won’t a guest worker program lead to more illegal immigration? Answer: No. The goal of the bill is to replace the current illegal flow with legal workers by giving the foreign workers our economy needs a safe, orderly, legal way to enter the country. Once every available job is filled by an authorized worker, and it is impossible – as it will be under this program – to get work without a valid visa, there will be much less incentive for other migrants to cross the border illegally. Far fewer employers will need to resort to illegal workers, and those who do – the truly unscrupulous, exploitative minority – can be targeted with enforcement and tough new penalties. #####
Mar 24 2006
Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)WASHINGTON- U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint today announced the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport Commission will receive a $2,974,488 grant for improvements at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport. “South Carolina’s airports are a vital part of our state’s transportation infrastructure and play an integral role in our economy,” said Graham. “These improvements will help recruit future investment and economic development.” "This is a clear indication that the FAA understands the importance of the Greenville-Spartanburg airport in the midst of a very competitive environment nationally for funds," said Senator DeMint. "This funding will provide for improvements to the airport’s infrastructure including access roads and the terminal building." The funds will be used to complete construction of a new interstate interchange, replace the slab on the air carrier apron, replace regulators in the airfield lighting system, replace a portion of the terminal roof, and upgrade the fuel storage and dispensing facilities. The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. ####
Mar 24 2006
Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced more than $7.1 million dollars for criminal justice programs in South Carolina. The South Carolina Department of Public Safety will receive a $3,610,292 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant. The funds will be used in a cooperative effort among federal, state, and local agencies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system. The money can be used for programs in law enforcement; prosecution; prevention and education; corrections; drug treatment; or planning, evaluation, and technology improvement. The South Carolina Office of Victim Assistance will receive a $3,543,000 Victims of Crime Act Compensation Grant to enhance compensation payments to eligible victims. Both grants were awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice. ####
Mar 20 2006
Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham's (R-South Carolina) budget amendment to restore the full funding of $27 million to keep Project Seahawk operating at the Port of Charleston has unanimously passed the Senate. “Project Seahawk is on the cutting edge in how we should address the security problems facing our ports,” said Graham. Graham noted this was the first step in securing full funding for Project Seahawk and the budget process is far from complete. “The U.S. Senate is on record in full support of Project Seahawk,” said Graham. “This is a solid statement as we enter the appropriations process, and I am committed to working with my colleagues to keep the program fully funded. Project Seahawk is not only important to Charleston, but the nation as a whole.” The Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Resolution must now be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. ####
Mar 16 2006
Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)Today, Senators Mike DeWine (R-OH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced the Terrorist Surveillance Act of 2006, a measure that would provide a statutory framework, with congressional and judicial oversight for the President to conduct electronic surveillance on the international communications of suspected terrorists, while protecting the rights and liberties of American citizens. “As the President has said, when terrorists call the United States, we want to know who they’re talking to. This bill gives the President the limited authority to do just that,” said Senator DeWine, a member of both the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Judiciary Committee. “It does not, however, give the President a blank check. The Terrorist Surveillance Act authorizes a limited, but necessary, program. It requires the President to go to court as soon as possible. And, it establishes an unprecedented Subcommittee with the power to oversee this program and protect the rights and liberties of American citizens.” “My goal is to ensure the spying program, which has been effective and vital to our national security, is able to continue by ensuring we have the appropriate checks and balances in place,” said Senator Graham. “I believe our legislation strikes that balance and will allow us to continue monitoring the enemy while protecting the rights of American citizens.” “As communications technology and the terrorist threat evolve, we must ensure the security of the nation by updating our laws. This legislation creates a 21st century law to address 21st century threats," said Senator Hagel, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. "We cannot lose our focus on national security. But we must not forget the critical roll that the legislative and judicial branches play in the governance of this nation. This bill ensures substantive Congressional oversight and reinforces the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.” “Today, I join with my colleagues – Senators DeWine, Graham and Hagel – in introducing legislation to bring the NSA’s surveillance program out of the shadows by reasserting the necessary constitutional checks and balances that both the legislative and judicial branches government have over the Executive. Information is the bedrock of this legislation. The more we learn about the NSA program, the better we are able to adopt measures necessary to protect our treasured constitutional rights without sacrificing our safety as a nation. This legislation is the first of many steps, but one that is critical to safeguarding our security and freedom,” said Senator Snowe. Under the Terrorist Surveillance Act, the President is given the limited authority to conduct surveillance of the international communications of terrorists for 45 days. To engage in such surveillance, the President must have probable cause to believe that the target of surveillance is a member of or affiliated with a terrorist organization. And, he must believe that the surveillance is necessary to protect the United States from a terrorist attack. Under the bill, the President is permitted to reauthorize the Terrorist Surveillance Program every 45 days. To ensure that the President does not overstep his limited authority, the Terrorist Surveillance Act adds important safeguards to current law to protect the rights and liberties of ordinary Americans.
- The bill mandates that the President obtain a warrant for surveillance on a suspected terrorist once he has sufficient evidence to do so.
- For those unusual cases where the President does not have sufficient evidence to obtain a court order, but still wishes to conduct surveillance on a suspect, the bill requires that the Attorney General certify, under oath, that continued surveillance is necessary to protect the United States.
- Finally, the bill establishes a Terrorist Surveillance Subcommittee within the Senate Intelligence Committee with the exclusive jurisdiction to oversee and monitor the details of the Terrorist Surveillance Program. That Subcommittee is empowered to obtain any and all information about the surveillance of any individual in order to ensure that the President is not abusing the rights of law-abiding Americans.
- The President determines that the surveillance is necessary to protect the United States, its citizens, or its interests;
- Protections are in place to ensure that the program is reasonably designed to acquire only international communications;
- There is probable cause to believe that at least one party to a communication is a member of, affiliated with, or working in support of a terrorist organization. The President must submit a list of designated terrorist organizations at least annually; and
- Minimization procedures are in place to limit the acquisition, retention and use of non-public information about U.S. persons.
- Every 45 days, the Attorney General must review the program and certify in writing and under oath whether the program meets the requirements set forth by Congress;
- The President may then reauthorize the program for another 45 day period, but only if he determines that the program remains necessary to protect the United States, its citizens, or its interests.
- The Attorney General must provide notice of the decision to continue or terminate the program to the congressional intelligence committees within 72 hours.
- Every 45 days, the Attorney General must also review the surveillance of any individual targets under the program.
- If, at any time, the Attorney General determines that he has sufficient evidence to obtain a FISA warrant, he must seek a FISA warrant to continue surveillance on that target.
- If the Attorney General determines that he does not have sufficient evidence to obtain a FISA warrant, but nonetheless wants to continue surveillance, then he must certify in writing and under oath to the Terrorist Surveillance Subcommittees the following four things: 1) that all previous surveillance complied with this Act; 2) that there is insufficient evidence to obtain a warrant under FISA; 3) that the President has determined that continued surveillance of the target without a court order is necessary to protect the United States, its citizens, or its interests; and 4) that continued surveillance is being undertaken in a good faith belief that it will result in the acquisition of foreign intelligence information.
- The Act calls for the creation of Terrorist Surveillance Subcommittees within both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
- To ensure confidentiality of the Terrorist Surveillance Program, these Subcommittees, along with bipartisan congressional leadership, will have sole oversight responsibilities of this program.
- The President must submit information on the management and operational details of the Terrorist Surveillance Program generally and any specific surveillance conducted by this program whenever requested by the Subcommittees.
- Every 6 months, the President must also submit a report to the Subcommittees, which, among other things, will include: 1) A complete discussion of the management, operational details, effectiveness, and necessity of the program and all electronic surveillance conduced under the program during the 6 month period; 2) Total number of United States persons targeted for electronic surveillance; 3) For any targets subject to surveillance for longer than 45 days, an explanation why the target was subject to continued surveillance without a FISA warrant; and 4) A description of the nature of the information sought under the program, the types of communications subject to the program and whether the information could have been reasonably obtained by less intrusive investigative techniques.
- Maximum fine of $1 million and/or 15 years in prison. This provision does not apply to journalists.