Posted on June 27, 2013
Says immigration reform now goes to U.S. House of Representatives to “improve the legislation and finish the job”
“It is the constitutional responsibility of Congress and the president to fix our broken immigration system. Senator Corker’s amendment dramatically strengthens border security. The bill ends de facto amnesty and creates a system of legal immigration.” – Lamar Alexander
WASHINGTON, June 27 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement on the Senate’s passage of immigration reform, which included an amendment by Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) to strengthen border security before any newly registered immigrant can apply for legal permanent residency:
“It is the constitutional responsibility of Congress and the president to fix our broken immigration system. Senator Corker’s amendment dramatically strengthens border security. The bill ends de facto amnesty and creates a system of legal immigration. Now it goes to the House of Representatives to improve the legislation and finish the job.”
As a result of Senator Corker’s amendment, which Alexander cosponsored, the legislation would add 20,000 border patrol agents. That would double the number of agents on the southwest U.S. border, which would be enough to station one agent every 1,000 feet. The legislation would also require the construction of 700 miles of new or upgraded fencing and spend $3.2 billion on new security technology that was proven in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The border patrol agents, fencing and security technology plan would have to be in place before an adult immigrant under the immigration legislation’s “Registered Provisional Immigrant” program would be allowed to apply for legal permanent residency, otherwise known as a green card.
The U.S. House of Representatives is still considering immigration reform, and the legislation the Senate passed today would require approval by the House and president before becoming law. The House could also opt to produce its own legislation, and Alexander said the House “should have as its goal to further strengthen border security, end de facto amnesty and create a system of legal immigration.”
Why I Voted for the Corker Border Security Amendment
The most important issue for me in the immigration debate was improving border security. The amendment to immigration reform by Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) takes dramatic steps to secure the border.
Before any newly registered immigrants can apply for a green card, the federal government must take the following actions to secure the border:
1. Add 20,000 border patrol agents, enough to double the number of agents and station one agent every 1,000 feet along the southwest U.S. border.
2. Build 700 miles of new or upgraded fencing.
3. Spend $3.2 billion on new security technology that was perfected in Afghanistan and Iraq.
4. Ensure 100 percent deployment of the E-Verify system that requires employers to verify that new employees are legally present and authorized to work in the United States.
5. Fully implement at sea and air ports a biometric entry and exit system that verifies the identity of foreigners visiting the United States.
Only after these five steps would the process of permanent legal residency – also known as a green card – for newly registered adult immigrants begin. A newly registered adult immigrant cannot apply for a green card, until, they:
1. Pay a fine, pay back taxes, enroll in English courses and prove they have no criminal record.
2. Wait 10 years. (Young people who were brought by their parents would have to wait five years.)
3. Get in the back of the line behind people who came here through the normal legal processes.
The opportunity to apply for citizenship would have to come after an immigrant has received a green card.
Registered Provisional Immigrants will not be eligible for federal need-based benefit programs like Obamacare health insurance subsidies, non-emergency Medicaid and food stamps. If these immigrants qualify for and receive a green card after waiting 10 years, most will have to wait an additional five years before receiving any of these federal benefits.
It is the constitutional responsibility of the president and Congress to create an immigration system that respects the rule of law. City councils and state legislatures cannot do that. I voted to secure the border, to end de facto amnesty for 11 million people and to establish a system of legal immigration in place of our broken system. Under our constitutional system of government, it is now time for the Republican U.S. House of Representatives to improve upon the Senate’s progress on this issue and finish the job.
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