By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Isakson: First step in reform is securing nations borders
Placeholder Image

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) again urged the Senate to commit to securing the U.S. borders as the required first step of any immigration reform. Comprehensive immigration legislation is currently being debated on the Senate floor.

“Our borders to the south have been leaking far too long and in too great of numbers,” Isakson said on the Senate floor. “We’ve had an immigration policy that for the better part of 21 years has been to look the other way as people float across our southern border and do nothing about it while millions come into this country. It’s got to come to an end.”

Isakson said he will reserve judgment on supporting the final bill until the debate is complete, but he said that at a minimum the bill must include his border-security-first “trigger” prohibiting implementation of a temporary, probationary work permit program until the Department of Homeland Security certifies to the President and to the Congress that the border security provisions in the immigration legislation are fully funded and operational.

“I stand before you today to say the American people want border security. I want border security,” Isakson said. “And if it is the trigger for immigration reform, it ensures that we’ll never have to repeat the mistakes of 1986 and that America once again will restore confidence in its borders, confidence in its immigration policy, and legitimacy with its people.”

During negotiations in crafting the legislation, Isakson has pushed his border security trigger that includes five specific provisions that must be in place before a temporary worker program can begin:

• Manpower — authorizing a total of 18,000 full-time Border Patrol agents.

• Detention beds — authorizing detention facilities with a total of 27,500 detention beds to end the practice of “catch and release.”

• Barriers — authorize additional barriers such as fences, roads or underground sensors along the entire U.S.-Mexico border.

• Unmanned aerial vehicles — authorize funds to acquire and maintain a squadron of at least four unmanned aerial vehicles with high-tech sensors and satellite communication to allow coverage on the border by an unmanned vehicle 24 hours a day.

• Biometrically secure ID — establish a biometric secure identification card program so employers can instantly verify an immigrants’ status.

“If border security is the trigger for immigration reform, the American people for the first time have an ironclad guarantee that our biggest problem, and that is an insecure border to the south, will be fixed and fixed forever,” Isakson said.

Isakson also said the bill must prohibit any new pathway to U.S. citizenship and must require illegal immigrants to return home and get at the back of the line to apply for citizenship just as everyone must do now. Isakson hopes the bill’s provisions will be strengthened during the amendment process.

In May 2006, during debate in the Senate on immigration reform, Isakson introduced a similar trigger amendment that would have prohibited the implementation of any program granting legal status to those who have entered the country illegally until the Secretary of Homeland Security had certified to the president and to the Congress that the border security provisions in the immigration legislation were funded and operational.

The Senate defeated the amendment on May 16 by a vote of 40 yeas to 55 nays, but Isakson has gained even more support for his border security trigger in the year since.