Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, issued a statement today following the Senate’s rejection of his border security amendment (S. Amdt. 1197) to the immigration reform bill (S. 744). Thune’s amendment would have required construction of approximately 350 miles of reinforced, double-layer fencing, which was required by the immigration bill passed in 1996, 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 amendment would have been paid for out of the $6.5 billion the immigration bill authorizes for border security.
“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 required by current law would be a tangible demonstration that Congress and this administration are serious about border security. I am disappointed the Senate missed this important opportunity to communicate to the American people that we are serious about securing our border and enforcing the laws that we pass.”Of the 700 miles of fencing required by current law, less than 40 miles of the reinforced, double-layer fencing required by the Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 have been constructed to date, despite this requirement being reiterated by the Secure Fence Act of 2006. Along with increased border patrols, greater situational awareness of the border, and a workable biometric entry-exit system, a physical fence along a portion of the southern border is a critical component of securing the border.