Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, has introduced several amendments designed to strengthen border security as part of the Immigration Reform Bill (S. 744). Below is a list of Thune’s amendments:
- (Amendment 1197) An amendment to require the construction of 700 miles of double-layered border fence. Thune’s amendment would require construction of approximately 350 miles of reinforced, double-layered fencing as a trigger prior to Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status being granted, with the remaining 350 miles being required before RPIs could apply for green cards. The 1996 immigration bill and the Secure Fence Act of 2006 required 700 miles of fence along the southern border. Only 36 miles has been constructed to date.
“Our immigration system is broken and must be fixed,” said Thune. “Unfortunately, each time Congress has tried to fix our immigration system, promises to secure our border are never upheld. The completion of the fence as required by current law would be a tangible demonstration that Congress and this administration are serious about border security.”
- (Amendment 1196) An amendment to require that governors of four southern border states approve the Secretary of Homeland Security’s border security plan and certify its completion prior to RPI status being granted. Under S. 744, the Secretary is only required to submit a border security plan to Congress, excluding states that will be most heavily impacted, before RPI status is granted to 11 million undocumented workers. Additionally, the Secretary has the discretion to deem the plan a success, which triggers permanent legal status for these immigrants. Thune’s amendment would ensure that key states are involved in the strategy and implementation of the border plan and that the border is secure before the legalization of undocumented workers.
“Southern border states will be the most heavily impacted by immigration reform legislation passed by Congress,” said Thune. “It only makes sense that the Secretary of Homeland Security work with these states to create and implement a plan that strengthens border security. Congress must show that we are serious about securing the border.”
- (Amendment 1269) An amendment to increase the number of additional required U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel in S. 744 from 3,500 to 4,000. Thune’s amendment would not only increase the number of additional CBP officers, but also specifies that these officers be placed along the southern border where the majority of illegal entries occur.
“Increasing boots on the ground not only secures the border, but can also speed up legal entry into the U.S.,” said Thune. “Ensuring we protect and secure the border is a priority and adding additional officers to help protect the border not only increases national security, but can also cut down the waiting time for those entering the country legally.”
- (Amendment 1270) An amendment to require mandatory biometric entry-exit system at the 10 busiest airports prior to RPI status being granted. Thune’s amendment would also require full implementation at all air and sea ports of entry before RPIs apply for green cards. As written, S.744 does not include a requirement for a biometric entry-exit system prior to RPI status being granted.
“Under current law, the U.S. should be enforcing a biometric entry-exit system to account for foreign citizens entering and leaving the country,” said Thune. “It is estimated that 40 percent of the undocumented population are visitors who entered the country legally, but have overstayed the length of their visas. My amendment would begin to enforce the laws already on the books and ensure that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection monitor the entry and exit of legal immigrants.”
- (Amendment 1271) An amendment to require implementation of the mandatory employment verification system (e-verify) prior to RPI status being granted. As written, S. 744 mandatory e-verify must be implemented before RPIs can apply for green cards. Thune’s amendment would strengthen a trigger already in the bill by moving it forward to require implementation for businesses with more than 500 employees prior to RPI status being granted.