U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Jerry Moran (R-Kans.) today filed an amendment to the underlying immigration reform vehicle that would establish a $25 billion trust fund to enhance U.S. border security. The amendment would also codify protections for those individuals who, at no fault of their own, entered the United States illegally as children and are currently covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“This commonsense legislation would fulfill several urgent short- and long-term needs, which include extending permanent protection to today’s Dreamers who are facing an uncertain future and finally taking a meaningful step toward enhancing border security, which is a priority for the president and a majority of us in Congress,” said Thune. “Immigration policy is not easy, as this week has shown, but I’m confident that with a bill like the one we’ve just put forward, we’ll be able to find consensus among Republicans and Democrats.”
“A sensible and fair solution is to codify the protections for the DACA population while also putting in place stronger border security measures consistent with the president’s proposal,” said Portman. “Those in the DACA program are here through no fault of their own, and for many this is the only country they know. This proposal represents a permanent legislative solution that will allow those in the DACA program to stay here and continue to contribute to our society while strengthening our border security to protect all Americans. Despite the failure to make progress today, I believe we still have a responsibility to resolve this issue, and this proposal is a fair and responsible solution that could get the necessary votes to become law.”
“Our nation has long valued diversity – of thought, of ideas, of background – and we must continue to foster this American spirit,” said Moran. “Congress has a responsibility to develop a humanitarian plan that cares for the children who were brought to the United States by their parents through no choice of their own and at the same time protects our homeland. Accordingly, any immigration plan must not inadvertently encourage further illegal immigration and must be coupled with enhanced border security so we limit these circumstances down the road. This bill returns to the basics of what a vast majority of my colleagues and the president support – providing long-term certainty to DACA recipients and better securing our borders. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this sensible solution that provides us a realistic path forward to get a bill to the president’s desk.”
The trust fund that would be established by the Thune-Portman-Moran legislation would be capped at $5 billion in outlays per year, which would include payment for no fewer than 700 miles of reinforced fencing (excluding vehicle barriers), additional physical barriers, access and patrol roads, lighting, an interlocking surveillance camera system, remote sensors, and the purchase of surplus Department of Defense aircraft and unmanned systems.
The legislation would codify DACA protections for only the existing population of people who are currently covered by the program, and it would preserve the current renewal process at two-year intervals.
Click here for legislative text of the Thune-Portman-Moran legislation.