Wes Hickman (202) 224-5972 or Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417
– U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) last night voted in support of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 which passed the Senate by a vote of 80-19. The legislation already passed the U.S. House of Representatives and will be sent to President Bush who has said he will sign the measure into law.
“The first issue to address in immigration reform is border security,” said Graham. “Without strong physical border security no immigration reform will be successful in stopping the flood of illegal crossings. The porous nature of our border doesn’t just pose immigration problems, but national security ones as well.”
“Unfortunately, additional fencing by itself does not address all our immigration problems,” continued Graham. “Nearly half of the illegal immigrants in the United States today never illegally crossed the border. They came to the United States as tourists, students or workers and never left. In many cases, they have obtained employment using fraudulent documents which put employers in the no-win situation of determining whether they can legally work in the United States.”
Graham noted that immigration is about jobs and that as a nation we must better control who gets them. This can be accomplished by creating of a guest worker program and instituting a worker verification system that lets employers know whether a job applicant can legally work in the United States.
The Senate immigration bill created a tamper-proof biometric worker verification card which would be issued to guest workers. The card would enable employers to differentiate between legal and illegal workers before hiring them. It also authorized the hiring of 5,000 new interior enforcement investigators over the next five years to uphold our employment laws.
“President Bush and I continue to push for comprehensive immigration reform,” said Graham. ““It’s time for our nation to have a permanent, not partial, solution to illegal immigration.”