Wes Hickman (202) 224-5972 or Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417
– 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.”