EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT OF 2007--MOTION TO PROCEED -- (Senate - June 26, 2007)
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Mr. SALAZAR. Mr. President, I rise to urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on the motion to proceed to S. 1639, the immigration reform package. This immigration reform legislation has been long in coming. Immigration has been debated on the floor in the last year for almost a month. We debated it earlier this year for several weeks. It has been the subject of multiple hearings.
The fact is this national security problem is not going to go away until the Members of the Senate have the courage to stand up and deal with this issue.
The legislation before this body may not be the perfect legislation everybody wants, and there are people who will find fault with the legislation, but at the end of the day, it addresses three fundamental principles we must address on immigration reform.
The first of those principles is that it secures America's borders, and it does that with tough provisions in how we police the borders, the addition of more Border Patrol agents, 370 miles of fencing, 70 ground-based radar and camera towers, 200 miles of vehicle barriers, new checkpoints of entry, and so forth.
Second, this law will enforce our Nation's immigration laws for the first time. For far too long, for the last 20 years, what has happened is America has looked the other way and turned a blind eye toward the enforcement of our laws in this country. This legislation has significant enforcement provisions in it that will, in fact, be enforced and funded.
Third, this legislation secures America's economic future. It does it by the passage of the AgJOBS Act which is supported by more than 800 organizations, farmers, ranchers, and the agricultural community throughout our great Nation.
It addresses the economic needs of America by moving forward with a new temporary worker program that will address the needs of America today in terms of jobs that other people do not want.
And finally, it sets forth a realistic solution for America's undocumented workforce, and it is a far cry from what those who are on the other side of this issue will say--that it is amnesty. It is not. When we are having the people pay the kinds of penalties we have in the bill, when we have them go to the back of the line, when we put them through an 8-year purgatory, when we put them through that probationary period of time, what we are saying to them is: You have broken the law, you are going to pay significantly to get back into the line relative to the possibility of having a green card which will not come until 8 to 13 years from now.
So I think we have struck the right balance here, and I would urge my colleagues to move forward and to give us a ``yes'' vote on the motion to proceed to debate this fundamental issue of national security.
Finally, I would say that the moral issues which are at stake, which are at the foundation of this debate on immigration, are moral issues we cannot escape from. This Senate has to have the courage to stand up and say we are going to address those issues now.