Today, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) released the following statement after voting for the Hoeven-Corker amendment to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744). The measure passed by a vote of 69 to 29:
"My colleagues Senators Hoeven and Corker have come together with the bipartisan Gang of Eight to work out a path forward on the issue of border security and other provisions of this critical bill. I appreciate their efforts and commitment to finding a compromise on this important issue, which is why I supported this amendment despite having some reservations about their approach. I personally would have preferred a more measured, needs-based approach focused on deploying the force multipliers we know are the most efficient and cost-effective solutions to bolstering security along our borders and at our ports of entry. While this bill may not be perfect, it is certainly better than the status quo and provides us with an important opportunity to advance the legislation and fix our broken immigration system.
"At the end of the day, passing this bill will be the best force-multiplier we have because it tackles the root causes that bring people to our nation illegally. The bill will provide legal channels to connect workers with the jobs our economy needs. It will make it much harder for people without work authorization to find jobs by implementing a mandatory employment verification system. It will also crack down on employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers by dramatically increasing the penalties. Just as important, this bill will bring more than 11 million people out of the shadows and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, improve our nation's balance sheet by nearly a trillion dollars over the next 20 years.
"Moving forward, those of us in Congress have a choice. We can continue to work together to make this bill better and adopt it in a bipartisan manner, or we can return to gridlock and let the American people down. Again, I am encouraged that my colleagues decided to come together on an issue of great importance to our country's economic and national security that will move us closer to approving a bill to make our immigration system better."
Chairman Carper had two amendments incorporated into the Hoeven-Corker amendment package:
Carper #1273 -- Visa Overstay Notification Pilot Program
It is estimated that of the 11 million undocumented individuals in the United States, at least 40 percent entered legally but failed to go home when their visa expired. This includes visitors on an array of student, employment and tourist visas or other authorizations of variable duration. Carper #1273 amendment would require a pilot program to explore the feasibility and effectiveness of notifying individuals in the U.S. that their visa is about to expire.
Carper, Hoeven, Pryor #1408 -- Preventing Unauthorized Immigration Transiting Mexico
Non-Mexican nationals now count for around 60 percent of unauthorized entries in south Texas and 30 percent of unauthorized entries nationwide. This amendment takes three simple steps to address this:
1) it requires the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security to develop a strategy to address this problem;
2) it would provide training and material assistance, such as computers or document readers, to border and law enforcement officials in Mexico and Central America in order to help them operate more effectively; and
3) it would create a "truth campaign" aimed at disseminating educational materials about the perils of the journey across Mexico, including the likelihood of apprehension and the difficulty of finding employment in the U.S. once the changes in S. 744 are implemented.