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Markup Fact Check #1: Sen. Grassley Ignores Reality on the Border

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When Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said the security provisions contained in the bipartisan Senate bill are “weak” in his opening statement today, he completely ignored reality and the real state of border security:

  • As a nation, we have mounted an aggressive “enforcement-first” strategy for the past 20 years.  Currently, according to the Migration Policy Institute, we spend more on immigration enforcement than on all other federal law enforcement efforts combined.
  • The only provision from the 2007 bill that hasn’t been finished (other than 1 more mile of border fencing) is mandatory use of an electronic employment verification system.  That provision represents the biggest increase in immigration enforcement in history and is contained inside the comprehensive bill.  Making use of modern technology, we finally will hold employers accountable and end illegal hiring in the workplace.  Smartly, it is coupled with legalization of the undocumented workforce so we start with a clean slate.
  • The bipartisan Senate bill dedicates up to $6.5 billion in new resources, in addition to the $18 billion we already spend annually on border and interior enforcement.  It requires DHS to develop a comprehensive border security and fencing strategy to achieve persistent surveillance of the border and a 90% effectiveness rate in high risk sectors before the legalization process commences.  Mandatory E-Verify and an entry-exit system for air and seaports must be implemented before immigrants can obtain green cards.

As the Wall Street Journal editorialized recently: “Republicans who claim we must ‘secure the border first’ ignore the progress already made because their real goal isn’t border security.  It is to use border security as an excuse to kill immigration reform.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:

After all the resources added and security upgrades made on the border; the record number of deportations; the continued focus and spending on enforcement by Congress and the Administration; the new strategies and even greater resources contained in the Senate bipartisan bill; and a plan to bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and into the legal system with multiple background checks—after all that, does Senator Grassley really believe the enforcement provisions are weak?  Or is he trying to find an excuse to oppose the Committee bill?  We’ve seen his 77 amendments to the legislation, and the answer is pretty clear.