Senators Agree to “Border Surge,” Plan Vote on Immigration Reform

Lewis Kendall

The Senate has reached a bipartisan compromise over a new immigration bill that would require a “border surge”—doubling the number of federal agents patrolling the border between the U.S. and Mexico, constructing an additional 700 miles of fencing, and adding high-tech security measures, including the use of drones. The measure is expected to help garner Republican support for a bill that includes a 13-year path to citizenship for current undocumented immigrants. “This bipartisan compromise will restore the people’s trust in our ability to control the border and bring 525,000 people in Illinois out of the shadows,” said Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who had previously opposed the immigration package. “Once the Senate adopts our amendment, I will be proud to vote for a bill that secures our border and respects our heritage as an immigrant nation.” The deal, spearheaded by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) in conjunction with the “Gang of Eight”, would cost an estimated $30 billion and would increase the number of border patrollers from 21,000 to 40,000. However, a report recently released by the Congressional Budget Office concluded that the bill would decrease government deficits by up to $200 billion over the next 10 years. The proposed use of drones to monitor the border comes on the heels of the FBI’s admission that it has deployed unmanned aircrafts to aid in investigations in the U.S., a move that several senators have said is cause for concern. And even Corker himself admitted that he felt the dramatic buildup in security along the border is “almost overkill.” Yet supporters hope that this new amendment will clear the way for the bill’s passage, and plan to push it through the Senate by the end of next week. “I don’t know what the hell is going to happen,” said Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), “but we’re on the verge of doing something dramatic on the border, and if it happens it will be due to Hoeven and Corker and a lot of our colleagues."

Lewis Kendall is a Summer 2013 editorial intern at In These Times.
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