Biden Votes for Senate Passage of Comprehensive Immigration Reform
U.S. Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) today voted with the majority of the Senate -- including Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Today's vote comes after months of Judiciary Committee work and over four weeks of Senate floor debate.
"I supported this bill because it was the best option available to deal with our growing immigration problem," said Senator Biden. "This was the only bill that adequately addressed all three pieces: mandating tough border security; tightening our temporary guest worker program; and finding a humane and reasonable way to deal with the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living and working in the United States."
"First and foremost, this bill enhances our control over the border, allowing us to better deal with future illegal immigrants as well as drug traffickers and potential terrorists. It also provides for the construction of over 350 miles of triple fences in targeted urban border areas, and creates a virtual fence with ground sensors and digital cameras from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean.
"Secondly, the bill recognizes the fact that there are an estimated 11 million people here illegally -- 1.6 million of whom are children. Mass deportation is not a realistic answer. This bill sets out a rigorous path to earned legalization including requiring the individual to show continuous employment; undergoing security and criminal background checks; submitting to a medical exam; learning English and U.S. civics and, paying back taxes and penalty fees.
"And lastly, the bill institutes a rational and limited guest worker program with an electronic verification system for employers. Under its provisions, an employer could only hire a guest worker if the guest worker has a tamper-proof identification card and the employer can demonstrate that no American could be hired to do the job. If employers violated these terms, they would be subject to criminal prosecution.
"The Senate bill certainly isn't perfect, but it strikes the right balance - it's tough, but it's fair too."
Senator Biden, along with a coalition of Democrats and Republicans, fought back against amendments aimed to derail the package, which, in the coming months, will undergo arduous negotiations to reconcile vastly different immigration packages passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate.