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Public Statements

Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

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Mr. McCAIN. I ask unanimous consent to address the Senate as if in morning business.

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Mr. McCAIN. I thank the Presiding Officer for these few extra minutes. I intend to speak until 12:45.

There is a lot to say about the immigration bill, and obviously there are amendments that are pending.

One, the Thune amendment would delay the process of bringing people out of the shadows until 350 miles of double-layer fencing is complete. This could have the impact of delaying the process for years. I note with some interest that the Senator from Texas, Senator Cornyn, believes there is no more fencing required in the State of Texas.

Fencing is important. Surveillance is more important. This bill alone as presently written includes $1.5 billion of fencing for the southern border as a trigger to begin adjustment of status for those in RPI status, but it doesn't arbitrarily dictate the number of miles of double-layer fencing that should be built. I think we should leave that to the best judgment of the Border Patrol.

I would point out that back in 2007, the Senators from Texas added an amendment to an appropriations bill that said: If the Secretary determines the use or placement of resources is not the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain operational control over the international border. We currently have 352 miles of pedestrian fencing, 298 miles of vehicle fencing along the southern border, which is where the Border Patrol said it is most effective.

The Vitter amendment has the same limitations. We agree, and in the bill an exit-entry system is created. The bill mandates that before anyone receives a green card, an entry-exit system must be in place in all air and sea capabilities.

I want to remind my colleagues who keep referring back to 1986--and I was around at that time--there was no real provision for border security there. There are provisions here. And I want to emphasize that we know exactly from the Border Patrol the technology that is needed in each sector in order to get 90-percent effective control of the border and 100-percent situational awareness, and these are detailed in important technology--which is the real answer to border security.

I am absolutely confident that with the implementation of this technology-based border security system, we can absolutely guarantee the American people--but, more importantly, the head of the Border Patrol--I will have a statement from him early this afternoon, and he will say that if we implement the technology--which they gave us the detailed list of--he is confident we can have 90-percent effective control of our border and 100-percent situational awareness.

I hope my colleagues who are concerned about border security--and legitimately they are--will pay attention to the statement of the head of the Border Patrol who says unequivocally that if we adapt these specific enforcement capabilities and technology, we will be able to have control of our border. That is an important item in this debate and it is incredible detail.

Also in this legislation we need to give them the flexibility where there is the improved technology, et cetera. We do need more people to facilitate movement across our ports of entry, but we have 21,000 Border Patrol. Today, on the Arizona-Mexico border there are people sitting in vehicles in 120-degree heat. In 1986, we had 4,000 Border Patrol. We now have 21,000. What we need is the technology that has been developed in the intervening years.

I would be more than happy to say to my colleagues that if we have a provision that this strategy must be implemented and is providing 90-percent effective border control, that would serve as a trigger.

I hope my colleagues will reject the pending Vitter and Thune amendments and we will move on with the legislative process.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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