Today, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) released the following statement after voting for the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744). The historic legislation passed by a vote of to 68 to 32:
"For too long, our immigration system has been broken. I am proud that today, after years of work and weeks of debate, Democrats and Republicans came together around a bipartisan, comprehensive solution that modernizes our immigration system, strengthens our borders and ports of entry, and enhances our nation's economic and national security in a manner that is practical, humane and fair. This is a historic moment. While I do not agree with everything that is in this bill, I believe that the status quo is untenable and that this bill provides us with an important opportunity to fix our broken immigration system. Today, two thirds of the Senate seized that opportunity and supported this bipartisan bill.
"The bill includes large increases in resources for our border agencies, which will build on the significant gains we have made in securing our borders over the past decade. At the end of the day, however, passing this bill is the best force-multiplier we have when it comes to securing our borders 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 and take advantage of undocumented workers by dramatically increasing the penalties they face, including significant jail time for repeat offenders. Most significantly, this bill will bring more than 11 million people out of the shadows so they can fully pursue the American dream. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, modernizing our immigration system and bringing these hard working immigrants out of the shadows and into our economy will improve our nation's balance sheet by nearly a trillion dollars over the next 20 years.
"Now our colleagues in the House must act. I hope that the overwhelmingly bipartisan example we set here in the Senate will show the House that fixing a broken system is far too important to allow partisanship to get in the way. Let's celebrate this victory today, but remember that we still have work to do."
As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Chairman Carper plays a key role in border security oversight and worked with his colleagues to include measures in the bill that enhance our security efforts at our borders and ports of entry in a cost-effective manner. Chairman Carper traveled to the Northern Border in Michigan and the Southern Borders in Arizona and Texas to see security efforts firsthand. He has also held three hearings examining our nation's border security this year:
May 7: Examining Provisions in the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744)
April 10: Frontline Perspectives on Progress and Remaining Challenges
March 14: Measuring the Progress and Addressing the Challenges
During his visits and hearings, Chairman Carper examined the important progress made at our borders and ports of entry and what improvements were needed as part of comprehensive immigration reform. As a result of his continued oversight of border security, Chairman Carper successfully included the following amendments in the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744):
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 would require 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.
To read more about Chairman Carper's work on the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744), please visit: www.carper.senate.gov/immigration