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Coburn-DeMint Amendment Puts Border Security First

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Coburn-DeMint Amendment Puts Border Security First

Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) and U.S. Senator Tom Coburn made the following statement regarding their amendment, S.A. 1311, to the Senate immigration bill, S. 1348. The amendment would require Congress to vote to certify all border security and interior enforcement triggers have been met before amnesty can be granted to illegal immigrants.

"The American people simply don't trust their government to secure the border and enforce our immigration laws," said Senator DeMint. "Right now, this bill guarantees amnesty but only promises future border security. Promises won't work this time. Let's secure the border first, prove we are enforcing our laws, and force the administration to make their case in public hearings. If Congress truly believes this bill will secure the border once and for all, politicians should have to take responsibility and vote on it."

"The American public cannot trust any new promises made by the Congress concerning immigration because the federal government has not kept its word. The American people expect their laws to be upheld. Yet, despite numerous laws on the books today, our borders are not secure and we have an estimated 12 million people in this country illegally," Dr. Coburn said. "Congress' broken promises have caused the American public to lose trust in the government's ability to secure our nation's borders and address our problems with illegal immigration. The first step in any immigration reform proposal must begin with securing our borders. Our country is based upon the rule of law and tolerating illegal immigration undermines this principle. This amendment is a step in the right direction to restore the public's faith in Congress' willingness to protect our nation by securing our borders and enforcing the law."

The Coburn-DeMint amendment addresses the key fear about the Senate immigration bill: that amnesty will first be granted and security provisions will never be fulfilled. Currently, the bill simply requires the Homeland Security Secretary to certify to the President that the triggers have been met. In essence, this is the administration policing itself.

The Coburn-DeMint amendment will restore confidence in the process by delaying legal status for illegal immigrants until Congress has certified that all of the security and enforcement triggers have been met.

This also requires enforcement of existing border security and immigration laws before amnesty can be granted to illegal immigrants. These provisions of existing law include: control over maritime borders, full fencing required by law, integrated alien databases, US-VISIT program, biometric ID system, and ending "sanctuary city" policies.

Provisions of the Coburn-DeMint amendment:

• Requires that before any of the other parts of the immigration bill can go into effect and before illegal immigrants can gain legal status, Congress must vote to certify that all triggers in the bill have been met and certain provisions of existing law must be implemented, as previously directed by Congress.

• Requires agencies responsible for implementing provisions of the law report to the President when they have been fully implemented; and that the President reviews the certifications and either approve or deny them.

• If the President denies that the agency has fulfilled the requirement according to law, the President must instruct the agency where they have been deficient and wait until they comply with the law.

• If the President approves the assertion that the laws have been correctly enforced, he must then certify to Congress that the requirements have been met and give a report with the information necessary for Congress to make an independent determination.

• Congress shall then, on an expedited basis, have 60 days to review and conduct hearings in committee, and upon discharge from committee have 5 days to pass a Resolution affirming that the laws have been properly implemented.

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