Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act

Floor Speech

By:  Lindsey Graham
Date: June 20, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GRAHAM. I thank all who made this better.

To Senator Cornyn's question about cost: I never objected to more Border Patrol agents. I didn't know how we would pay for the bill. I hoped it would be deficit neutral. Boy, did my hopes come true. It is not deficit neutral. According to the Congressional Budget Office, we reduce the deficit in the first 10 years by $190 billion and over a 20-year period $700 billion. So the reason I didn't want to agree to 5,000 agents without somebody showing me how we would pay for it, we are borrowing enough money from our grandchildren and great-grandchildren to run the government. We don't need to do any more borrowing unless we absolutely have to.

The good news is the bill we have written will create economic growth in the country at a time when we need economic growth. It will allow employers access to labor they don't have today so they won't be tempted to cheat in the future. This bill helps the economy. Don't take my word for it, take CBO's word for it.

If you had some more money to spend in this bill, how would you want to spend it? Let me tell you what Senator Graham would wish to do. He would wish to hire 20,000 Border Patrol agents to let everybody in the country know I get it when we say we have got to secure the border.

You are right, we have had two waves of illegal immigration. We don't need a third. And why are we doing this? Why 20,000 Border Patrol agents? That is three brigades of troops. That is taking the equivalent of three brigades of Army troops, trained law enforcement officers, to supplement the 20,000 we have. We will have a Border Patrol agent every thousand feet on the border 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It costs over $20 billion, but I can tell you this: It is money well spent, because it makes the border more secure, which helps us with our sovereignty.

Why are we hiring 20,000 agents on top of the 20,000 we have? Because our country can't control who comes in. We cannot maintain our sovereignty if every 10 and 20 years 3 million to 11 million illegal immigrants come into our country. If you want the border secure, as I do, your ship has come in. The 20,000 are now affordable and they are needed. The 700 miles of fence will be built because it is needed. The $3.2 billion of technology that has been proven to work in Iraq and Afghanistan will go to the border because it will help back up the Border Patrol agents.

As to my good friend from Texas: How do we know all this works? The bill requires us to hire the agents and put them on the border before you can transition to green card. It is not talking about hiring the agents, it is not talking about training them. You have got to hire and deploy.

The bill also says the fence has to be built. The bill says the $3.2 billion of new technology that worked in Iraq and Afghanistan has to be purchased, deployed, and operational.

Here is my belief: If you hire the Border Patrol agents and you put them on the border, they are not going to read a comic book. They are going to do their job. You don't need to prove to me they are going to do their job. You just need to get them on the border so they can do their job.

And if you have the 18 drones versus the 6, you don't need to prove to me somebody will fly them. They will fly them. If you have the technology deployed and operational in addition to the drones, the VADER radar and the sensors, people will look at the radar because they want to protect our country.

What has been missing is capacity. This is a border surge. We have militarized our border, almost. Why? Because we have lost our sovereignty. We have lost the ability to control who comes into America.

My belief is if you can't get a green card until all of this is purchased and deployed, that is enough. There will come a point to where it is enough.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have been working on this for almost a decade with Senator McCain. I can look anybody in the eye and tell them that if you put 20,000 Border Patrol agents on the border in addition to the 20,000 we have--that is one every thousand feet--that will work. If you buy technology that helped us fight and create success in Iraq when we did the surge, that will help the Border Patrol agents. If you build a fence, that all helps. So I don't need any more than getting it in place.

Finally, to my good friend from Tennessee and my good friend from North Dakota: The bill when we wrote it I thought was good, but they have made it a lot better. To anybody in America who believes border security should be robust and it is a national security priority, we have in every sense of the term ``reasonable'' met that goal. We couldn't have done it without more people.

To the Gang of 8 Members, it has been a joy to work on this bill.

To our colleagues who have weighed in and tried to get the bill better and get to yes, you are doing this country a great service.

I hope Monday night we will pass legislation that will mandate that 20,000 additional Border Patrol agents will be on the border working before you can get a green card; that the technology that worked in Afghanistan and Iraq will be up and operational before you can get a green card; the fence will be built before you get a green card. And to me, ladies and gentlemen, that is enough. That is enough.

The people we are talking about deserve a hard-earned process to get into America. They need to pay a fine, learn our language, get in the back of the line, and they need to earn their way into good standing. But they are people.

I am very pleased to support what I think is the most dramatic amendment in the history of our country to secure our border at a time when we need it secured.

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