Thursday, June 13, 2013

Border security becomes focus of immigration debate

As the Senate began debate Wednesday on the immigration bill, which could provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, the focal point turned to border security, which Republicans said must be addressed before they will vote for the bill, Julia Preston and Ashley Parker report for The New York Times. (NYT photo: Sen. Ran Paul, R-Ky.)

“In order to bring conservatives to this cause, those who want immigration reform must understand that a real solution must ensure that our borders are secure,” said Sen. Rand Paul, who, like many conservatives, said he supports the pathway to citizenship for immigrants, but holds border security as the more important issue, reports Preston and Parker.

"The current bill would give the Department of Homeland Security six months to present plans to extend border fencing and achieve effective control of the Southwest border, defined as continuous surveillance along its length and 90 percent effectiveness in stopping illegal crossings," reports Preston and Parker. "Once those plans are presented, illegal immigrants could apply for provisional status. The bill includes $4.5 billion in border financing in the first five years."

"If the security goals had not been met after five years, a commission would be created to ensure border officials met them," reports Preston and Parker. "After 10 years, provisional immigrants could apply for permanent residency — the first step toward citizenship — if the border plans were fully operational, the fencing was completed, mandatory electronic verification for new workers was in place nationwide and an electronic exit system checked foreigners departing through airports and seaports."

Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, filed an amendment that would "require certification from Homeland Security and the top federal auditor that his border goals had been met for one year before provisional immigrants could start the path to citizenship," reports Preston and Parker. (Read more)

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