Bipartisan House & Senate effort now more than 100 members strong.
United States Senators Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., yesterday introduced legislation to reduce illegal immigration by dramatically increasing border and interior enforcement and providing employers with tools to verify work eligibility.
"Recent debates on immigration have time and again fallen victim to partisan division," Sen. Landrieu said. "Falling through that divide has been the paramount need to enforce the laws already on the books, and to back them up with the action and resources to succeed. The SAVE Act looks past partisan strife to focus on smart, effective strategies for securing our borders and curtailing illegal immigration. Working with Senator Pryor and Congressmen Shuler and Melancon, I am encouraged by the large, bipartisan coalition of support this approach has generated. "
The Secure America through Verification and Enforcement Act (SAVE Act), S. 2368, provides a three-pronged approach to reducing illegal immigration. It is identical to legislation introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Heath Shuler, D-N.C., with 105 bipartisan cosponsors from 26 states.
"I am proud to be working with Senator Landrieu on this important legislation to secure our nation's borders and stop illegal immigration," said Rep. Shuler.
"The American public must have confidence that our immigration system works, and I am happy to work with Senator Landrieu and Representative Shuler to see that it does," said Sen. Pryor, the Senate bill's lead sponsor. "That means enforcing the laws we already have on the books. Border patrol is the first step. Expanding the employee verification program is the second. And beefing up interior enforcement is the third. This legislation addresses these challenges through a fair and practical approach."
The bill strengthens border security by increasing border patrol agents by 8,000 over 5 years and employing new technology available, including satellite communication and aerial surveillance.
Second, the SAVE Act expands and mandates use of the E-verify program -- a free and effective program that allows employers to verify the individuals they hire are legally allowed to work in the U.S. The program will be phased-in over four years, beginning with the federal government, federal contractors, and employers with more than 250 employees. Smaller businesses would begin using the system in a graduated manner.
Finally, the legislation enables law enforcement, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to enforce existing federal laws by providing them with the staff, training, resources and infrastructure necessary to do their jobs.
"Illegal immigration is a threat to our communities and a burden on our local governments, and we must do more to combat this problem and protect our borders," said Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-La., who cosponsored the House version. "The SAVE Act will help stem the tide of illegal immigration through commonsense measures like putting more agents along our borders and requiring employers to verify workers' citizenship, and I thank Senators Pryor and Landrieu for introducing it in the Senate. The SAVE Act is a serious response to the illegal immigration crisis in our country. I look forward to working with Sen. Landrieu, Sen. Pryor, Rep. Shuler and other supporters to get it passed by Congress and signed into law."