Apr 06 2006

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said he supported the Senate compromise bill on immigration reform. Graham participated in the negotiations with other Senators which led to the agreement. President Bush has expressed support for the bipartisan work of the Senate. Under the agreement, illegal immigrants would be separated into categories depending on the length of time they have been in the United States. * Illegal immigrants living in the country at least five years would be put on an eleven year path toward citizenship as long as they paid a $2,000 fine, passed a national security and criminal background check, remained employed, paid federal and state taxes, registered for military service, passed a civics test, and learned to speak English. They will not have to visit a port of entry. * Illegal immigrants living in the country for two to five years would have the opportunity obtain a temporary work visa. They would be subject to the visa requirements (fines, background checks, taxes paid, etc.), but they must exit the country. These immigrants would be fingerprinted and processed through US-VISIT at a land port of entry for return into the United States. After no less than eleven years, they could become citizens. * Illegal immigrants who have been in the country less than two years would be required to leave the United States. They could apply for temporary worker status, but would not be guaranteed to receive this status. “For illegal immigrants in the United States more than two years, the Senate bill is similar to a plea bargain,” said Graham. “They will have to come out of the shadows and acknowledge they came to the United States in violation of our immigration laws. The terms of probation will be to pay $2,000 in fines, undergo two national security and criminal background checks, remain employed, pay all federal and state taxes, register for military service, show proficiency in the English language and understand American civics.” “I think the terms of the probation are strict but fair,” said Graham. “Some immigrants will meet the terms of their probation and some won’t. Those who don’t will face deportation. Those who do will then be able to go to the back of the line to apply for citizenship. We made the conditions strict to ensure people pay their debt to society and they do the right thing if they wish to live in the United States.” The legislation retains the language on border enforcement and worker verification which Graham acknowledged were major provisions to enforce any immigration reform effort. Graham noted that one new provision was particularly important. It says that employers cannot offer a job to a guest worker until they verify the position was publicly listed at the prevailing wage and no American wanted to fill the position. This will help address concerns that guest workers will take jobs from Americans or depress wages in an area. “I’m pleased the Senate has chosen to come together, along with President Bush, to provide a comprehensive solution to the immigration problems facing our nation,” said Graham. “This problem has been neglected for too long. We need to secure our border and reform our immigration system now. We still have more work to do, but with President Bush’s support I believe this can become law.” The bill also contains provisions toughening the physical enforcement of the border by construction of a ‘virtual’ fence which relies on cameras, motion detectors and other technological devices to monitor illegal crossings into the United States. In certain high traffic areas, a real fence 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, will be constructed. In addition, the legislation calls for the hiring of an additional 12,000 additional Border Patrol agents over the next five years. “The nation clearly has broken borders,” said Graham. “With this comprehensive immigration bill, the nation no longer has a broken Senate.” #####

Apr 05 2006

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced Bull Swamp Rural Water Company will receive a $157,000 grant and $293,000 loan for water system improvements in Woodford. The funds will be used to replace 9,300 linear feet of cement pipe with PVC pipe. The grant and loan were awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. ####

Apr 05 2006

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced St. James-Santee Family Health Center in McClellanville will receive a $1,164,237 Community Health Center grant. In addition to the main location, the health center operates a clinic in Georgetown. Community Health Center grants are designed to promote the development and operation of community-based primary health care service systems in medically underserved areas. The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ####

Apr 04 2006

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint today announced more than $1.7 million in grants to five airports in South Carolina. Clarendon Clarendon County will receive a $60,000 grant to identify future airport needs and update the airport layout plan. Greenville Greenville County and the City of Greenville will receive a $42,989 grant to identify future airport needs and update the airport layout plan. Jasper Jasper County will receive a $169,100 grant to design the rehabilitation of a runway and conduct an environmental assessment. Spartanburg The City of Spartanburg will receive a $611,000 grant to install perimeter fencing and remove approach obstructions. Williamsburg Williamsburg County will receive an $868,300 grant for taxiway construction. The grants were awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. ####

Mar 31 2006

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) made the following statement after the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on a censure of President Bush. “A censure of President Bush is unwarranted and unjustified. Censure would have the affect of destroying a vital and necessary national security program allowing us to monitor the enemy. To equate President Bush’s terrorist surveillance program with Watergate or President Clinton’s actions in a civil lawsuit is absurd. “The legal issues surrounding the NSA wiretapping issue are complex and very much unsettled. While I disagree with some of the Administrations legal positions, it is clear the White House is advocating a legal doctrine supported by past Presidents and one which has been subject to healthy legal debate. “The censure resolution, regardless of motive, will diminish the power of future Presidents because it could result in a President being politically punished because they disagreed with some members of Congress on the law. If the Senate votes on the censure resolution, I believe the sponsors will be fortunate to get a handful of votes.” #####

Mar 31 2006

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced South Carolina will receive a $20,521,015 grant for the treatment of HIV/AIDS in the state. The funds, awarded under the Ryan White Title II Formula Grants Program, can be used to provide a variety of services to low-income individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS. The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ####

Mar 28 2006

WASHINGTON -- After returning from a week long visit to China to evaluate the Chinese government’s willingness to freely float its currency, U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Charles Schumer (D-New York) today announced that they would agree to delay a vote on their Chinese currency bill to no later than September 29 and, if the pace of currency reform slows before that date, the Senators would be able to call their bill up for a vote sooner. The Senators also met today with Treasury Secretary John Snow to discuss their visit to China and their pending legislation. “China’s currency is undervalued and this hurts American manufacturing,” said Graham. “The three percent revaluation since our bill was introduced is a good start, but I’m not totally convinced it represents real reform. My message to the Chinese was the status quo is devastating to American manufacturers and they need to embrace reform by over time allowing their currency to float. The small progress we have seen needs to continue. I’m willing to abandon the need for tariffs if the Chinese embark on real reform. We’re not there yet.” “We came back from China with a real feeling that the Chinese realized that pegging their currency is not only bad for America, but bad for China as well,” Schumer said. “We hope there will be real movement in the coming months.” During their trip, the Senators visited Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong and met with key government and financial leaders. The Schumer-Graham legislation allows for a 180-day negotiation period between the United States and China on currency revaluation; and, 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 on a procedural vote last April. ######

Mar 28 2006

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement on the resignation of Andy Card as White House Chief of Staff. “Andy served our President well and we should all be appreciative of his loyal and committed service. Serving as White House Chief of Staff is one of the most demanding jobs in government. As the second longest-serving White House Chief of Staff in history, Andy handled the position and its demands with grace. “As a graduate of the University of the South Carolina, Andy was very familiar with the political landscape of our state. He was also very helpful in meeting the needs of our state’s congressional delegation. I personally appreciate all he has done for South Carolina. I have nothing but high regard for him on both a personal and professional level. He will be greatly missed.” ####

Mar 27 2006

WASHINGTON – 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

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. ####