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Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. AYOTTE. Mr. President, I thank my colleague from New York for giving us that courtesy. I rise in support of the amendment that will be offered by my colleagues from Tennessee and North Dakota. I appreciate the hard work they have done to enhance the border security provisions in the current pending immigration bill on the floor. To all of us, securing our border is very important to preventing another wave of illegal immigration in this country.

But what they have done is incredibly important. It is very strong, the strongest measure that I think this body has considered--20,000 Border Patrol agents, essentially doubling those agents that will be along the southern border; in addition to that, significantly increasing the fencing. In fact, at least 700 miles of fencing will have to be completed along the southern border, almost doubling what was already in the bill for fencing and specifying what types of technology the Department of Homeland Security will have to deploy, including the best technology, using sensors and drones, to make sure we can apprehend those who are illegally trying to cross our border and then making very sure we prevent a further wave of illegal immigration, along with the strong reforms in this bill to our legal immigration system, making sure we can keep the best and the brightest here to help us grow our economy, to make sure we have the workforce we need to ensure that we will create jobs here.

Let us not forget we are a country of immigrants. I daresay for most of my colleagues either their parents or their grandparents came from another country and worked very hard in this country. We need legal immigration that works for our country, that makes sure our economy continues to grow and that we have people here who want to work hard and live the American dream. But we also cannot ignore securing our southern border.

That is why I am proud to cosponsor the amendment that will be offered by Senator Corker and Senator Hoeven. This doubles the number of border agents, doubles the amount of fencing, specifies the type of technology that is required, and gives the resources to finally secure our border.

To my Republican colleagues, I think there was an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today that is worth mentioning. I share their concerns about securing the border, but I hope--with the strong enhancements that have been put in this amendment to double the amount of border security, to strengthen and double, almost, the amount of fencing, to make sure the right technologies are in place to secure our border, this will prevent another wave of illegal immigration--they will not use border security as a ruse not to vote for a bill to fix an immigration system that is absolutely broken.

The status quo is not working for anyone. None of us wants to find ourselves, another 5 years from now, debating this issue again and finding that we have a larger population of illegal immigrants and we have legal immigration that is not working for our country and is not making sure we have the right people here, people who are working hard, living the American dream to grow our economy and great American jobs.

I think today the Wall Street Journal has said this border security issue cannot be used as a trick not to want to support a strong bill which is on the floor--and this amendment will make it very strong on the border security provisions--and finally work in a bipartisan manner to fix a broken immigration system that is not working for anyone and not working for our country.

I yield the floor for my colleague from Florida. I commend my colleague from Florida who has worked--along with the other Members of the group, the Senators from Arizona as well as the Senator from South Carolina--but the Senator from Florida, I know how focused he is on making sure our borders are secure. I appreciate his strong leadership in fixing this broken immigration system and making sure we do not have another wave of illegal immigration in this country.


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