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Department Of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2008

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, I am very pleased that Senator Graham and others have come together to increase and enhance our border security in this country. We all know in this Chamber we have tried very hard to reform our immigration system that we have on the books.

In fact, I have been very vocal saying I am for immigration reform. I think we need to do that. But so far we have not been able to get that done in the Senate. I believe, honestly, we need more involvement with the White House in trying to get that done.

But regardless of that, today one of the things that came through to me loudly and clearly from the people in Arkansas is we need to secure our border. People do not want to wait 2 years, 3 years, 5 years, whatever it may be, to have border security; they want us to start working on that now.

That is what we are trying to accomplish with this amendment today. Again, I am very pleased that Senator Graham, a true South Carolina conservative Member of this body, someone whom we all respect, someone who, even though he has impeccable conservative and Republican credentials, is willing to reach across the aisle to work with others to try to get good things done for his State and for our country. He and Senator Cornyn of Texas and many others have worked on this issue. I am very pleased to be part of a bipartisan solution on border security.

One of the things I like about this legislation is it adds $3 billion for border security. That means we will get 23,000 additional full-time border agents, we will get new border-monitoring technology, we will get 300 miles of vehicle barriers, we will get 700 miles of fence. That is funded by this amendment. We will get 105 radar and camera towers, and we will get resources to detain an additional 45,000 illegal immigrations who are in this country right now.

It also includes money to help with some internal matters in this country, to help do some processing and look at employee issues and employer issues, et cetera.

This is a good amendment. I think one of the things I heard loudly and clearly from the immigration debates we had on the Senate floor was people in Arkansas want us to secure the border first, let's enforce the laws we have on the books. They have been on the books for a long time, and we have not done a very good job of enforcing those laws.

When I say ``we,'' I mean the administration. The will to try to enforce the laws we have on the books has not been there. I am not trying to point fingers. It is not only this administration; we can go back for a couple of decades.

Regardless of that, I am not trying to point fingers. Right now I want to look forward. I want to add to this amendment an additional $3 billion for border enforcement to enhance this Nation's security.

I encourage my colleagues to look at this, give it very strong consideration, and support this amendment. It is bipartisan. We have a number of Senators who were on it originally, a number more have been added as we go today. So I would, in closing, recommend to my colleagues that they give this very strong consideration. It will allow us to enforce the laws we have on the books, it allows us to enhance our border security in very real and very meaningful ways. I think it is what the American public wants.

I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum and ask that the time be equally divided.

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