Jul 25 2007

Graham Offers Amendment on Border Security and Interior Enforcement to Homeland Security Legislation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today offered an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security funding legislation appropriating $3 billion for increased border security efforts. 


“There are at least half a dozen major changes in policy we have to make as a nation to get the problems of illegal immigration under control,” said Graham.  “The comprehensive approach, where we made all the necessary changes in one fell swoop, failed.  Just because it failed does not mean the problems posed by illegal immigration have gone away.


“We’re now moving to Plan B,” said Graham.  “That will require us to address the major changes that must be made a piece at a time.  Today, we’re addressing border security, visa overstays, sanctuary cities, and other important issues.  There’s no doubt that operational control of our southern border is a national security imperative.  We must regain control of our border and this much-need emergency funding will play an important role in making that happen.”


Graham noted Congressman Rahm Emanuel, a leading member of the Democratic House leadership, recently said comprehensive immigration reform will have to wait at least six years until the second term of a prospective Democratic presidency.


“Unlike Congressman Emanuel, I do not believe we can wait years to address our nation’s pressing and urgent immigration problems,” said Graham.  “My amendment contains many of the provisions that were in the Senate immigration bill and Graham-Kyl-Martinez.  These are the provisions of immigration reform where there is broad consensus.  They should be enacted.” 


The Graham Amendment is cosponsored by Senators Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire), John Cornyn (R-TX), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), John McCain (R-AZ), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Mel Martinez (R-FL), Arlen Specter (R-PA), and John Sununu (R-NH).


The major provisions include additional funding and policy changes affecting our nation’s border security and interior enforcement efforts:


Border Security:



  • The U.S. government must achieve full operational control over 100 percent of the U.S.-Mexico land border.


  • The hiring, training and deploying of 23,000 Border Patrol agents.


  • 4 unmanned aerial vehicles and 105 ground-based radar and camera towers.


  • 300 miles of permanent vehicle barriers and 700 miles of border fencing.


  • 45,000 detention beds to put a permanent end to ‘Catch and Release.’


Interior Enforcement:



  • Requires a total of 14,500 new Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) agents through Fiscal Year 2012 – a total of approximately 30,000 CBP agents overall – as well as increased hires of new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.


  • Addresses the issue of Sanctuary Cities by prohibiting cities from banning the obtaining of information on immigration status by their own law enforcement agencies.


  • Builds upon the King Amendment in the House of Representatives, which grants civil liability protection to those who report possible threats to our nation’s transportation system.


  • Provides additional funding for Operation Jump Start which maintains a National Guard presence along the Southern border.


  • Strengthens current law on criminal aliens to deny immigration benefits to aggravated felons, gang members, terrorists, sex offenders, and child abusers.  The bill also expands the Institutional Removal Program and gives the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the ability to detain criminal aliens for an extended period of time before they can be removed.


  • Gives states and local law enforcement new authorities to detain illegal aliens and transfer them into DHS custody.  It also allows state and local law enforcement authorities to use homeland security grants for 287(g) training and provides funding to cover the costs of detaining and transporting criminal aliens.


  • Addresses Visa Overstays by requiring DHS to detain aliens who willfully overstay their period of authorized admission for more than 60 days.


  • Addresses illegal reentry by increasing criminal penalties and sets mandatory minimum prison sentences for aliens who have been removed and illegally re-enter our country.


  • Provides for Expedited Removal by restricting the impact of outdated court injunctions that currently prevent DHS from transferring certain illegal immigrants into expedited removal and returning them to their country of origin as soon as circumstances allow.


  • Addresses US-Visit and Entry Inspecting by clarifying DHS’s authority to collect biometric entry and exit data at U.S. ports of entry.  It also requires DHS to provide Congress a timeline for implementing US-VISIT at all land border ports of entry.


  • Requires DHS to enhance Basic Pilot Program to help facilitate broader us by employers as well as improve accuracy and efficiency.


“What we do today in my amendment is an important step, but certainly not the only step, to get a handle on illegal immigration,” said Graham.  “As a nation, 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.”


“We are serious about border security and this again shows the commitment to do whatever is necessary to regain control of our borders,” said Graham. “The sooner we get a handle on the problems associated with illegal immigration, the better off our nation will be. 


“This amendment is a step in the right direction and the beginning of what I expect will be a longer, more drawn out effort to reform our nation’s immigration practices,” concluded Graham.