Vitter Lead Senate Co-Author of Legislation to Secure America's Borders
SAVE Act Increases Border Patrol Agents, Expands E-Verify Program
U.S. Sen. David Vitter today announced the re-introduction of the Secure America through Verification and Enforcement Act in the U.S. Senate. The bill will encourage immigration reform by securing America's borders, clarifying and enforcing existing laws and requiring an inexpensive and accurate way for employers to verify the residency status of potential employees.
"It's become very obvious that our national borders are extremely vulnerable. We have thousands of people crossing over illegally on a daily basis and not enough law enforcement officers to handle this influx," said Vitter. "Illegal immigration has become a critical national security concern and places an unfair burden on tax-paying citizens and American businesses. Instead of looking at ways to seek amnesty for illegal aliens, we need to seriously become proactive about how we can effectively combat this problem, and the SAVE Act will help us do that."
The SAVE Act includes multiple provisions relating to border security and will increase the current number of border patrol agents by 6,000 and provide them with new technology and fencing to secure our northern and southern borders. To ensure that border patrol agents can effectively perform their duties, the bill also provides for an increase in helicopters, power boats, motor vehicles and additional equipment such as body armor, night vision scopes, Global Positioning System devices and portable computers. The bill will also expand current specialized enforcement programs, such as the Tunnel Task Force, which actively seeks out underground passageways used to illegally enter the United States.
"If we are serious about tackling this illegal immigration epidemic, we must first secure our borders - especially in a time like this, in which a heightened threat of terrorism is such a reality," Vitter said.
Another important component of the bill relates to the E-Verify program that provides employers with an effective and inexpensive means of verifying employee eligibility. Despite its previous successes, the program is underutilized, offering little incentive for employer participation. The SAVE Act would require the use of the E-Verify program by all employers within the next four years, beginning with government agencies and federal contractors. The bill would also require that the Social Security Administration notify any employer in any instance where an employee's provided social security number does not match the records of the administration.
"The E-Verify program has had great success in the past, but the voluntary nature of the program allows some individuals to continue the practice of hiring illegal workers. Such activity places an unfair disadvantage on employers who conscientiously take steps to verify the legality of potential employees and creates potential security breaches that must be addressed. Widespread use of the E-Verify program will yield concrete, positive results and allow American companies to effectively identify illegal workers, reducing the burden on those businesses who are already doing so," Vitter said.
Recently, Vitter secured another important employer enforcement-related provision in his amendment to the Department of Homeland Security funding bill that prohibits funds from being used to rescind the federal Social Security "no match" notices program. The Obama administration recently stated their intent to rescind the program in an executive order, which notifies employers of any Social Security numbers that do not match up with employees and provides another important tool to prevent illegal immigrants from working in the United States.
The SAVE Act legislation also addresses interior enforcement, providing for the employment of additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents within the Department of Homeland Security. It also provides for the training of additional state and local law enforcement personnel, which will allow them to participate in regional activities in support of federal law enforcement professionals. Further, the bill increases the number of immigration judges in California, New Mexico and Texas - areas that remain hot beds' for illegal migration - and expands existing detention facilities for illegal aliens, thus allowing for the expedition of the deportation process.
"Strengthening our borders is an important first step in fighting our growing illegal immigration problem, but interior enforcement is also critically important. The SAVE Act will increase the number of ICE agents, allow for the expedited removal of illegal aliens by expanding the size of our current detention facilities and launch a targeted media campaign that will specify new laws and penalties relating to illegal immigration," said Vitter.
Vitter joined his Democrat colleague U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor in offering this bill. A similar bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Democrat U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler and has 76 bipartisan cosponsors.