Border Amendment Unjustifiable
Deal Is Massive Giveaway to Defense Contractors
The following is a statement from Michigan United Director Ryan Bates on the new proposed immigration bill which includes the “Hoeven-Corker” amendment:
After years of work for just, fair, and humane immigration reform, the US Senate has, at the 11th hour, re-written the bill to include $48 billion in additional border security measures. This is an unjustifiable waste of resources that will militarize our border, terrorize border communities, and would be a lasting shame on our nation.
The new border measures would spend enough on armed border agents to literally position one every1000 feet, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, fromSan Diego,CAtoBrownstown,TX. The Border Patrol has increased dramatically, from 5,000 agents in 1992, to 20,000 today. This bill would double that number to an astonishing 40,000 agents. Additionally it calls for deploying drones, high-tech sensors and double-layer fencing over700 miles. Much of this must be achieved before immigrants are allowed to complete the path to citizenship.
These measures would essentially militarize our border, where millions of Americans live, and which millions of families cross every day for work and school. It is an affront to our American values of an open society.
This deployment of resources has nothing to do with security or safety. Border communities are some of the safest in the country, and border crossings are at a 40 year low, largely due to the unprecedented build-up of security at the border that has already occurred– $18 billion on immigration enforcement was spent in 2012 alone.
Rather, these billions are about buying votes, plain and simple. Republican lawmakers who have demanded harsh austerity for children in Head Start, families on food stamps, students who need college loans, and the uninsured, are now eagerly shoveling pork to the defense contractors who will build the drones, sensors, and border wall. They have conveniently waived the normal procedures on bidding for these bloated federal contracts, all but assuring waste, fraud, and abuse. For example, the federal government cut a $1 billion contract with the Boeing Corporation because their much-lauded “virtual wall” failed completely.
This hypocrisy is made worse by the fact that virtually no civil rights protections have been included in this “border surge.” Customs and Border Protection (Border Patrol) has a long and well-documented history of civil rights violations, abusive treatment of immigrants in detention, unnecessary violence, and even killing US citizens. This agency is completely incapable of managing their current poorly trained and under-supervised force, and we are about to more than double their ranks.
We oppose this new deal, and demand that the “Hoeven-Corker Amendment” be immediately stripped from the comprehensive immigration reform bill.
“We want to acknowledge and thank the members of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” for their tireless efforts, their statesmanship and their unwavering commitment to a balanced and fair approach to immigration reform. They have bent over backwards to accommodate some of their enforcement-first colleagues, and this compromise represents a huge concession on their part,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR (National Council of La Raza).
“While we believe that this compromise is unnecessary policywise, it is clearly politically necessary both to ensure a solid bipartisan Senate vote and to send a strong signal to the House that they must act to support a fair and effective bipartisan solution. By agreeing to this deal, the bipartisan group of senators has overcome the bill’s biggest hurdle without undermining the path to legality and citizenship, which is at the heart of the legislation,” added Murguía.
“Like all hard-fought compromises, this one is painful. It is also excessive since the current bill already has sufficient resources dedicated to improving security. Specifically, by doubling the number of Customs and Border Patrol agents, the amendment will drum up unnecessary costs and raise concerns about civil rights violations for people living in border communities. It is essential that the final bill includes provisions to prevent civil rights abuse and racial profiling and to ensure that Customs and Border Patrol agents are properly trained and held accountable,” continued Murguía.
“We urge the Senate to move forward as quickly as possible with a vote on final passage,” concluded Murguía.
CASA in Action:
“On behalf of our 40,000 members across the region, CASA will be reaching out to Senators in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia to ask them to reject the compromise and strip the language from the bill and we will be asking partner organizations in other states to do the same,” said Gustavo Torres, CASA’s Executive Director. “Senator Schumer seems to believe that the immigrant community is endlessly expendable.”
CASA, like many organizations, was working to make improvements to the base bill. According to media reports, these attempts will be forestalled by today’s leadership agreement. For example, Cardin Amendment #1294 would lift up the value of community service in the bill and bring immigrants into sometimes life-saving volunteer service, yet was not included. Like the many hundreds of additional amendments that have been submitted for consideration.
“On April 10, we brought 100,000 people toWashington,DCto demand commonsense immigration reform,” said Torres. “Not secret deal immigration reform, not backroom deal immigration reform, but commonsense immigration reform.”
Eliseo Medina, Secretary Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU):
“In any compromise, there will always be gains and losses. This agreement is no exception. Although we commend the Senators’ commitment to immigration reform and engaging in bipartisanship—a rarity in Congress—we seem to have gained more border armory and fortification than reason.
“The exchange to guarantee more Republican support comes at a high cost with millions of dollars more in investment to border security, as if it didn’t already get enough funding. Combined with the benchmarks already in place in the bill, the excessive border provisions make a mark in our history and our pockets. This is disappointing and we will undoubtedly work to ensure that the overall legislation respects the rights of border communities and migrants.
“That said, the centerpiece of the bill, the roadmap to citizenship, is priceless and an absolute necessity to a smart and sensible immigration bill. The Corker-Hoeven amendment doesn’t undo it, nor should any other amendment.
“Now, members of Congress who were demanding tougher border security measures in the bill can prove that their concerns over the issue aren’t a ruse meant to delay the path to citizenship or create a second-class status by demonstrating support for the amendment and moving forward with the legislation. Mr. Cornyn and others can’t complain – they’ve gained more border resources than necessary.
“Americans understand that the single best way to make our immigration system more secure is to create an earned path out of the shadows for 11 million people. It’s time to join the majority of Americans, championing commonsense immigration reform. When poll after poll, including a recent Fox News survey, finds that voters on both sides of the aisle want Congress to find a way for the millions of hardworking immigrants to remain in the country and earn citizenship, it’s time to deliver.”
Marielena Hincapié of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC):
“The Senate has received an excessive and expensive proposal to militarize the border in exchange for demands from the Latino and immigrants’ rights communities to create a road to citizenship for 11 million immigrants now in the country without documents.
“The amendment is so expensive, in fact, that Senator Leahy said the border militarization provision ‘reads like a Christmas wish list for Halliburton.’ This sort of expenditure translates not just to wasted taxpayer money, but to a rollback on the American values for due process and equal treatment for millions of Americans living along our border.
“We are deeply concerned that in their zeal to score a major political win, senators allowed the fundamental freedoms of border communities and aspiring citizens to be trampled.
“We will analyze the legislation and its impact on low-income immigrant families, but one thing is immediately clear: border and immigrant communities cannot — and should not — tolerate additional efforts to strip immigrants of their basic rights. Latino, Asian-American, and immigrant voters have said time and again that they want a true and direct road to citizenship. We shouldn’t have to sacrifice American good governance, fiscal responsibility, and basic rights in the process.
Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM):
“Republicans have merely proven that their appetite for spending on border enforcement is insatiable,” said FIRM spokesperson Kica Matos. “In 2012, the federal government spent $18 billion on immigration enforcement, more than all other law enforcement agencies combined. The border is more secure than at any time in our history, and reports show that border crossings are at a 40-year low. This amendment will spend $30 billion more to militarize the border and potentially undermine civil rights, given the lack of any further protections for people living in border communities and those crossing the border.”
“The layers and layers of wasteful border spending that litter this bill have no real purpose other than letting Republicans strut before a dwindling anti-immigrant base. No more compromises. It’s time for a vote and time for each Senator to stand with or against our families.”