Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said he was very pleased the Senate accepted his amendment to provide $3 billion for increased border security and interior enforcement measures. The vote was 89-1.
"In the age of terrorism, regaining operational control of our nation’s borders is a national security issue of the highest order," said Graham. "There is no doubt we need better border security at our southern border including more boots on the ground, more miles of fencing, better technology which acts as a force multiplier, additional detention beds, and unmanned aerial vehicles. My amendment provides funding for these important and much-needed changes in federal policy.
"I’m pleased with the overwhelming support for my amendment," said Graham. "It’s a confidence builder in showing the American people we are serious about border security. Regaining operational control of our nation’s borders is the gateway to further reforms of our broken immigration system."
The Graham amendment ensures and requires:
- The U.S. government to establish and demonstrate operational control over 100 percent of the international land and maritime borders between the U.S. and Mexico.
- Provides funding to construct the 700 miles of fencing as required under the Secure Fence Act.
- Provides funding for hiring, training, and placing on duty 23,000 Customs and Border Patrol agents.
- Permanently ends ‘Catch and Release’ by providing the resources necessary to detain up to 45,000 aliens per day.
- Provides funding for 300 miles of vehicle barriers at the border.
- Provides funding for 105 ground-based radar and camera towers.
- Provides funding for the deployment of 4 unmanned aerial vehicles at the border.
- Provides funding to handle the deportation of absconders and visa overstays.
"The term ‘operational control’ is a military term, and I look at this effort to secure our border as a military operation," said Graham. "We are serious about border security and this again shows the commitment to do whatever is necessary to regain control of our borders."
Graham noted many of the border security protection provisions accepted today were contained in the Senate immigration bill and the Graham-Kyl-Martinez amendment which was debated last month. He also noted there remain at least half a dozen, major changes in policy our nation must address to get the problems of illegal immigration under control.
"The comprehensive approach failed but the problems posed by illegal immigration have not gone away," said Graham. "We are now addressing the major changes one piece at a time. This is a strong first step in a long journey toward reforming our broken immigration system.
"We still need a more robust electronic employee verification system (EEVS), a merit-based immigration system, assimilation programs to ensure people understand English, a method to ensure everyone is paying taxes, a temporary guest worker program for people who want to come here, make money and return to their home country, and other changes," said Graham. "This is the beginning of a longer, more drawn out effort to reform our nation’s immigration practices."