The U.S. Senate today voted overwhelmingly to pass new immigration reform legislation, which includes a tough new Southern Border Security Plan introduced by Senators John Hoeven and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and a measure Hoeven cosponsored to increase H-1B Visas for STEM and high-tech graduates of U.S. schools. At the same time, the new immigration bill provides $850 billion in deficit reduction, according the Congressional Budget Office.
"The American people want a comprehensive immigration reform plan with tough border enforcement," Hoeven said. "They want to know that ten years from now, we won't find ourselves in this same position, having to address the same problem."
The immigration bill, which passed the chamber by a bipartisan vote of 68 to 32, includes the Hoeven-Corker Amendment, which places unprecedented manpower and technical resources on the border to stem the flow of illegal immigration. The Hoeven-Corker Amendment allows no Green Card --Lawful Permanent Residence status -- until five triggers are met:
* First, the Department of Homeland Security must submit to Congress a Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy that includes a set of very specific requirements for each sector along the border as identified by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, and further, the plan must be deployed and operational.
* Second, the Border Patrol must deploy, maintain and station 20,000 border patrol agents on the southern border in addition to the 18,500 agents already stationed there, representing an unprecedented increase in manpower.
* Third, an additional 350 miles of fencing must be completed, for a total of 700 miles in the most effective locations across the border.
* Fourth, a mandatory national employment verification system must be fully implemented for all employers to take away the principal incentive for coming illegally -- the chance to get a job.
* Fifth, and finally, a mandated electronic entry/exit system must be fully implemented at all international air and sea ports of entry within the United States wherever U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are currently deployed.
Affirming the effectiveness of the Hoeven-Corker Amendment, the CBO reported earlier this week that the legislation "would significantly increase border security relative to the committee-approved version of the bill, and it would strengthen enforcement actions against those who stay in the country after their authorization has expired. Therefore, CBO expects that, relative to the committee-approved version of S. 744, the amendment would reduce both illegal entry into the country and the number of people who stay in the country beyond the end of their authorized period."
MORE HIGH-TECH VISAS TO CREATE JOBS AND BUSINESSES IN AMERICA
Hoeven cosponsored the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 (I-Squared), a bipartisan measure that would allow more foreign-born science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates of U.S. universities to stay in the United States to help create jobs and new businesses. The students would fill positions for which there aren't a sufficient number of American workers. Every U.S.-educated advanced degree green card holder creates 2.6 American jobs, and each H-1B visa holder helps create 1.8 American jobs, according the American Enterprise Institute.
"What we are talking about is making sure that the scientists, engineers and technicians that graduate with advanced degrees from some of our best universities get to stay and help us innovate and create jobs here in the United States instead of in some other country," Hoeven said. "That can help us solve the fundamental challenge we face today, which is getting this economy growing and people back to work."
REFORMS HELPS REDUCE THE DEFICIT, CREATE JOBS, GROW THE ECONOMY
The CBO has reported that the new immigration bill will provide $850 billion in deficit reduction over the next 20 years, and will increase funding to strengthen entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. It will also boost Gross Domestic Product by 3.3 percent in the first decade and 5.4 percent in the second.