Tentative deal reached in Senate on enhanced border security
Republicans in the Senate are running out of excuses to vote against immigration reform. A tentative deal has been reached on border security that would go a long way toward meeting the concerns of nervous GOP Senators and may even convince some Republicans in the House to vote for some kind of immigration reform.
Republican Sens. John Hoeven and Bob Corker have been working on an amendment to the Gang bill that would satisfy Republicans who say the legislation as currently written does not have strong triggers to make the awarding of green cards, or permanent legal status, conditional on the completion of strict border control measures. A Senate aide familiar with the talks says the agreement would require that such measures be in place before immigrants could win permanent legal status.
The key feature of the deal is a massive increase in the number of Border Patrol agents. The Hoeven and Corker amendment would call for the number of agents to be essentially doubled, to about 40,000 from its current force of 20,000. "It's hard to contend that you can't control the border with about 40,000 Border Patrol agents," says the Senate aide.
The deal would also call for an increase in the miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. It appears the amendment will provide for a total that is near the 700 miles of fencing called for in the Secure Fence Act, which Congress passed in 2006 but watered down a year later.
The plan would also include what the aide calls "a whole gaggle" of border security infrastructure -- infrared sensors, drones, and other high-tech devices, which the aide says would be "enough to give situational awareness along the whole border."
The deal also calls for the full implementation of the E-Verify employment security system, which is already a part of the Gang bill as it is today.
Finally, the arrangement calls for the implementation of an entry-exit system at the nation's airports and other entry points. But it would be a bio-graphic system, not a higher-tech biometric system that many Republicans have wanted. The bio-graphic versus biometric issue has been a point of contention throughout negotiations over the Gang bill, but Hoeven and Corker appeared to have resolved it in favor of the lower-tech solution.
But as we all know, congressional plans on border security has a way of getting mangled or lost by the time Homeland Security gets around to implementing them. The agreement also includes some protection against that happening as DHS would have to submit a plan to congress that contains all the minimum requirements in the bill.
And to make sure there's no backsliding by DHS, all of these measures must be in place before illegals can obtain permanent legal status.
York based this article on conversations with aides, and I have to tell you - it sounds too good to be true. I can't believe Democrats caved so completely on the issue of border security being in place before illegal aliens can get any kind of permanent legal status. All we've heard for weeks from Democrats was this simply wasn't going to happen, that securing the border would take "years and years." And now they've changed their minds?
If this all proves to be true, immigration reform will probably get the 70 votes sponsors think they need to put pressure on the House to take up comprehensive reform. But I'd hold my fire until we have an opportunity to look closely at the deal and see if it really is "as advertised."