Border security enters immigration debate
WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES (12/JUN/2013.) - The United States Senate debate on comprehensive immigration law on Wednesday focused on border security.
Republicans argued that the bill requires much stricter clauses in the area and some Republicans suggested that Democrats simply want to destroy the project.
The discordant note came to light just a day after the Senate voted unanimously to officially start the debate on the bill. It has been a top priority for the President Barack Obama, who would make it the distinctive achievement of the first year of his second term. But the latest dispute highlighted the political obstacles in the way to enactment.
The approved measure faces a tough time in the House of Representatives, dominated by Republicans, who prefer a more gradual approach in the law.
The Senate measure creates a 13-year path to citizenship for some of the 11 million immigrants who are in the country without legal authorization, allowing the process of citizenship to start only after certain goals are met in border security. But critics say that these border "triggers" are not strong enough, and several Republicans propose amendments to strengthen them.
An amendment presented by Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, would prohibit to take the first steps toward the citizenship untill Secretary of Homeland Security ensures that the border between Mexico and the United States has been shut under control for six months.
"Unfortunately, too many people have been led to believe that this bill is required by the Secretary of Homeland Security to provide security at the border. Indeed, it guarantees that, but only after the legalization" Grassley said on the Senate floor on Wednesday . "That's why we need to pass my amendment."
Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he would oppose such efforts including the Grassley's amendment "to modify the triggers which could blatantly delay or prevent the path to legalization".
"I welcome additional ideas on how to improve border security and public safety," said Leahy. "But our goal should be to secure the border, not to close it. I will oppose efforts to impose unrealistic border security measures, overly expensive, overly rigid, inhuman and ineffective".
Supporters of immigration law reform in the United States are struggling in the Senate to overcome procedural hurdles facing the bill.
The two voting demanded sending the bill in full to the Senate and allowed the amendments on Tuesday by more than 80 votes, reflecting the bipartisan desire to discuss the project to reform the country's immigration laws and establish a procedure to get citizenship for millions of immigrants living illegally in the US.
Despite the amount of the vote, Republican lawmakers warned about their demand to tightening border security and impose stricter conditions on those who attempt to legalize their status. "The bill is deeply flawed," said the Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell.
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama insisted that the White House thinks that has come "the time to give millions of immigrants settled in the U.S. in an irregular situation the possibility of obtaining citizenship”, and pressed Congress to send him the draft Act early in the fourth quarter.
The project establishes a period of 13 years for millions of immigrants who came to the country illegally before 2011 or who stayed after their visas have expired to obtain citizenship. The project also requires tighter border security to prevent future illegal immigration.
In addition, the project would create a new program for the laborers from entering the country and would expand the number of visas for highly skilled professional employees, which was highly sought by high-tech firms.
Its supporters believe they can get the 60 votes needed for the project to exceed obtrusive tactics of Republicans approval in the Senate of 100 members by July 4. Democrats hold 54 seats in the Senate and Republicans 46, but several opponents say that the approval is not assured.
To that end, the creators of the project, four Republicans and four Democrats, are trying to accept the amendments of the Conservatives on border security and other issues to achieve project approval, but without hardening of the process of obtaining the citizenship the bench of Democrats will reject these amendments.
The republican senator Marco Rubio, a potential presidential candidate in 2016 and another author of the bill, said only half of the conservative senators willing to support the measure, but on condition of the substantial improvement of the border security.