Pryor Sponsors Bill to Secure Borders, Strengthen Enforcement of Existing Employment Laws
Senator Mark Pryor today reintroduced legislation to reduce illegal immigration by increasing border and interior enforcement and providing employers with tools to verify work eligibility. Representative Heath Shuler (NC-11) introduced comparable legislation in the House of Representatives today.
"The American public must have confidence that our immigration system works, and I am pleased to team up with Representative Shuler to see that it does," Pryor said. "A critical first step towards solving our immigration problem is enforcing the laws we already have on the books. Border patrol is the first step. Expanding the employee verification program is the second. And beefing up interior enforcement is the third. This legislation addresses these challenges through a fair and practical approach."
Pryor said the Secure America through Verification and Enforcement Act (SAVE Act) provides a three-pronged approach to reduce illegal immigration. First, it strengthens border security by increasing border patrol agents by 6,000 over 5 years and employing new technology available, including satellite communication and aerial surveillance.
Second, the SAVE Act expands and mandates use of the E-verify program - a free and effective program that allows employers to verify the individuals they hire are legally allowed to work in the U.S. The program will phase-in over four years, beginning with the federal government, federal contractors, and employers with over 250 employees. Smaller businesses would begin using the system in a graduated manner. The Obama Administration recently announced that all federal contractors and subcontractors must use the E-verify program starting September 8, 2009.
Pryor said the E-verify program is gaining in popularity. He cited a report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service that indicates 103,038 employers were registered to use E-verify in January 2009, an increase from only 5,272 employers who were registered in January 2006.
Third, the legislation enables law enforcement, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to enforce existing federal laws by providing them with the staff, training, resources and infrastructure necessary to do their jobs. Additionally, the legislation expands detention capacity and increases the number of Federal District Court Judges in order to expedite the deportation process.