U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., today made the following statements in response to the Senate passage of S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. The bill passed by a vote of 68 to 32 with Isakson and Chambliss both voting No.
"I believe that immigration reform is an important issue that our country must address--that's why I voted to begin debate on this bill several weeks ago. Although this bill is in some ways an improvement from the immigration bill in 2007, I had hoped that the Senate would produce a bipartisan bill that truly solved the many issues plaguing our nation's outdated immigration system.
"I have said for many years and from day one of this debate that border security is my top priority, and I am disappointed that S.744 does not ensure true border security. I voted against S.744 today because it contained several waivers and loopholes that could allow those who are here illegally to obtain green cards before our nation's borders are truly secure.
"The Senate vote today is just the beginning of the process. I look forward to seeing what the House produces on immigration reform, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to fix our nation's broken immigration system."
"Legal immigration is the foundation of America. Almost every American can point to the moment when their ancestors came to America to forge a better life for themselves and their families. It is with this strong tradition of acceptance that we must look at immigration reform. Any immigration bill must first secure the borders, and then make the path for legal entry smoother. We had a real shot here to do this right. Unfortunately, this bill did not include the verifiable border security piece. Additionally, the agricultural program under this bill had some major flaws.
"As someone from the heart of ag country in south Georgia, I care deeply about making sure our farmers and ranchers are able to access a stable and legal workforce when sufficient American workers cannot be found. I am disappointed and frustrated my amendments that would have fixed these problems were not considered. Unfortunately, in the end this was a bill I simply could not support.
"I hope the House can fix some of the problems my colleagues and I have identified in this bill. We still have an opportunity to do this in the right way once and for all."
The House has indicated that it will not take up the Senate bill that was passed today. Some House members have expressed that they might introduce new immigration reform legislation that predicates a path to citizenship or legal status on securing our nation's borders.