GA Senator Johnny Isakson has again introduced a bill for consideration in the US Senate which would tie border enforcement as the top priority before considering other changes to immigration law. Isakson was part of the earlier efforts to do this in the last Congress, but as we know, we ended up with border security authorization (as as with the construction of the border wall), but without any real confirmed guarantee of funding for the project.

I’m sure that both funding for existing initiatives as well as this new measure will face a tough road in the Democrat-controlled Congress, especially since the existing nearly toothless measure barely came out of the Republican-controlled Congress, but I think it is a good attempt to frame the problem as a multi-dimensional one.

As the AJC reported from Isakson speech on the Senate floor:

The hope and opportunity of reforming legal immigration in this country can become a reality.

And I am not an obstructionist to doing it. In fact if anything needs to be done, it’s that we need to reform the legal system because we almost promote, through the rigidity and difficulty of legal immigration, coming here illegally because we’re looking the other way on the border.

And we have a historical precedent. In 1986, we reformed immigration with the Simpson Act. We granted three million people amnesty, said we were going to secure the border and didn’t. Today we have 12 million because we did not secure that border.

That can never happen again.

Providing ad hoc amnesty will not nothing more than to encourage more people to continue to violate the laws unless we are prepared to really draw the line. And contrary to the biased opposition, measures like that proposed by Senator Isakson are not an attempt to “keep foreigners out of America”. There’s no question that reforming the process of legal immigration is not also essential. As long as that does not just substitute as a code-word for amnesty alone and continued non-enforcement of the borders.

There’s more at Sen. Isakson’s website as well, including this summary:

“There is no way you can reform legal immigration unless you first stop the porous borders and the flow of illegal immigrants,” Isakson said on the Senate floor. “I come to the floor of the Senate today to introduce a major immigration reform bill that I think is the bridge from where we are to where we must go. I stand ready to work with any senator on comprehensive immigration reform as long as securing the borders is the foundation of that reform.”

Isakson’s legislation would prohibit implementation of its guest worker 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.

Those border security provisions that must be in place before a guest worker program can begin are spelled out in Isakson’s bill and they include five main items:

* Manpower – authorizing 14,000 new full-time Border Patrol Agents as well as 2,500 new Port of Entry Inspectors and 250 new Deputy U.S. Marshals.
* Detention beds – authorizing detention facilities with an additional 20,000 detention beds to end the practice of “catch and release.”
* Barriers – authorize additional barriers such as fences, roads or underground sensors where appropriate.
* Unmanned Aerial Vehicles — authorize more than $450 million to acquire and maintain a squadron of unmanned aerial vehicles with high-tech sensors and satellite communication to allow coverage on the border by an unmanned vehicle 24 hours a day.
* Biometric ID – establish a biometric secure identification card program so employers can verify an immigrants’ status.

“The reason we have this problem is we have the greatest nation on the face of this Earth. You don’t find anybody trying to break out of the United States of America. They’re all trying to break in,” Isakson said. “And they are for a very special reason: the promise of hope and opportunity and jobs. But we must make the only way to come to America be the legal way to come to America.”

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