Thursday, March 13, 2008

Chambliss, Isakson Vote to Expand Immigration Enforcement

U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today voted in favor of an amendment they co-sponsored to the Fiscal Year 2009 Senate Budget Resolution that would create a deficit-neutral reserve fund for border security, immigration enforcement and criminal alien removal programs.

“Taking immediate action towards securing our borders and stopping illegal immigration is the best way to restore credibility with the American people,” said Chambliss. “We said last year that we are going to keep pounding this issue and this amendment will set aside room in the budget to fully fund existing border security and immigration enforcement programs. It is an opportunity for the Senate to show we are prepared to move forward and do what is necessary to follow through on our promise of securing our borders first.”

“There’s no greater domestic issue in this country than the problems on our southern border with Mexico, and it is time that Congress makes a commitment to make border security a reality,” Isakson said. “The Senate’s passage of this critical amendment is a step in the right direction. Border security must be a priority in the Congressional budget. America is too important, and this issue is too critical to the American people.”

The amendment would cover all border security, immigration enforcement, and criminal alien removal programs, but specifically highlights six programs that will need attention in this year’s budget cycle. Those programs include:

(1) expanding the zero tolerance prosecution policy for illegal entry ("Operation Streamline") to all 20 border sectors;

(2) completing the 700 miles of pedestrian fencing required by the Secure Fence Act of 2006;

(3) deploying up to 6,000 National Guard members to the southern border; or

(4) evaluating the 27% of the federal, state, and local prison populations that are non-citizens in order to identify removable criminal aliens;

(5) training and reimbursing state and local law enforcement officers under Memorandums of Understanding entered into under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act;

(6) implementing the exit data portion of the U.S. VISIT entry and exit data system at airports, seaports, and land ports of entry (the exit portion of U.S. VISIT is already past the December 31, 2003, deadline for airports and seaports, the December 31, 2004, deadline for 50 high-traffic land border ports of entry, and the December 31, 2005, deadline for full implementation at all ports of entry, required under 8 U.S.C.A. §1365a).

The amendment passed by a vote of 61 to 37.
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