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Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PAUL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up my amendment No. 1200, which is cosponsored by the Senator from Missouri, Mr. Roy Blunt, with a modification at the desk.

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Mr. PAUL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the amendment be considered as read.

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Mr. PAUL. Mr. President, I rise today to speak about my amendment, which we have entitled ``Trust But Verify.''

I am in full support of immigration reform, as are most Members of this body and most Americans. But part of that reform must be that we insist on border security.

Recently the authors of the current bill made clear that legalization will not be made contingent on border security. Most conservatives such as myself believe just the opposite, that legalization or documentation of workers absolutely must depend on border security first. My amendment does that. Trust But Verify makes documentation of undocumented workers contingent on border security.

I believe the American people should not rely on bureaucrats or a commission to enforce border security. We have been promised security in the past and it never happens. My amendment is different than any other amendment because I want Congress to institute border security, not wait for a plan from the administration.

With Trust But Verify Congress will vote every year for 5 years on whether the border is secure. The power to enforce border security will be in our hands, the people's representatives, and it is Congress that will be held accountable if we fail. If Congress believes the border is not secure, then the processing of the undocumented workers stops until the border becomes secure.

To be clear, my amendment doesn't replace any triggers of the underlying bill. It simply adds new conditions to build on border security measures that are already in the bill. The only way to put real pressure on the Department of Homeland Security is to have tough triggers that ensure that the border is secure before immigration reform can proceed.

My amendment is entitled ``Trust But Verify.'' My amendment legislates exactly how we secure the border. The current bill merely requests a plan to secure the border. My amendment requires 100 percent border surveillance capability, a 95-percent apprehension rate, and a completion of a double-layered fence. Instead of having a plan to build a fence, we just tell them: Build the fence. We monitor the building of the fence as it progresses, and we make these triggers transparent to the public.

This amendment also would end the practice of releasing people who are caught crossing the border. Ninety-five percent of the people caught are released and they never come back--they go to the interior of the country.

Legalization of undocumented workers is allowed to commence after 1 year if Congress agrees that the border is secure. The resolution would be simple and would simply state every year: It is the sense of Congress that the U.S. border is increasingly secure. And Congress will determine if the Department of Homeland Security has met the goals Congress has written into law.

My amendment mandates that 100 percent exit tracking for U.S. visitors is accomplished through all portals--air, land, and water. One of the biggest problems our Nation is experiencing is that individuals here on temporary visas tend to overstay, and some never exit the country. My amendment solves this problem.

My amendment also has two important national security elements. One provision sets up a student visa national security registration system as a means to track young men and women who come to this country on student visas. Also, individuals here under asylum or refugee status must register in a program providing increased screening and a means to make sure the Federal Government has an idea of where people in these programs reside.

We should remember that most of the 9/11 hijackers were here on student visas and were not being properly monitored. And I still don't think that problem has been fixed.

This amendment is fully paid for by taking funds that would have gone toward this commission. We will not need a commission because we are actually going to put border security in the bill, and it requires no additional funding. If my amendment is implemented, there will not be a need for this commission.

One big problem with immigration reform is the dire need to reform our immigration court system. My amendment empowers immigration judges to have the power to implement orders. Judges make decisions and then no one will carry out the orders. It is a completely broken system. Both the left and the right agree we need to fix the immigration court system. This amendment would do it. My amendment would convert our courts from administrative courts to article I courts with enhanced jurisdiction.

My amendment also protects the privacy of all Americans by placing in law protections against citizens being subject to invasive biometric identification cards. Most Second Amendment supporters rightly see universal background checks as a step too far in invading citizens' personal business. Any national ID, biometric or otherwise, raises the same constitutional concerns.

Finally, my amendment does not allow the processing of this new category called registered provisional immigrants until Congress votes that the border is secure. Then we limit the number to 2 million per year, and each year we vote: Is the border more secure? If the border is not becoming more secure, the process stops until we agree the border is secure. This will allow the Department of Homeland Security to do an effective job of conducting background checks on the estimated 11 to 12 million people.

If Congress votes that the border is not secure, the processing of people into this category stops. It will not start again until Congress, the Representatives of the people, believe that the border is secure.

We desperately need immigration reform. If we don't have reform, I think we will have another 10 million people come over in the next decade. So something should be done, but it has to be done in a way that fixes the system. This amendment will fix the system.

I ask my colleagues to support Senate amendment No. 1200, Trust But Verify.

I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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