It looks like Republicans in the Senate are finally getting it. Jim DeMint, who was a hero in fighting the shamnesty movement last year, has introduced legislation to finally get the damn fence finished.
Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) introduced the “Complete the Fence Act” that will require the completion of 700 miles of reinforced pedestrian fencing along the nation’s southern border by December 31, 2010. The bill also requires the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to report to Congress by June 2009 on fence construction progress and how it plans to complete the full fence by the 2010 deadline.
“Americans demand a secure border and the first step is to complete the fence,” said Senator DeMint. “Our nation’s borders are fundamental to our national security and our sovereignty, and we can’t delay any longer. If we want to have a legal immigration system that works, we must have a secure border so we know who is entering and leaving the United States.”
In September 2006, Congress overwhelmingly passed and the President signed a bill that required 700 miles of reinforced fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. The “Complete the Fence Act” will require DHS to complete the 700 miles fence by December 31, 2010, using only reinforced pedestrian fencing, not vehicle barriers or “virtual” fencing.
In direct conflict with the requirements set by Congress in 2006, DHS Secretary Chertoff has recently attempted to count vehicle barriers that stand only a few feet high and can easily be walked around as part of total fencing completed. DHS claims to have completed 302 miles of fencing by counting 134 miles of vehicle barriers. DHS has actually only completed 167 miles of physical, pedestrian fencing.
Last week, at a U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee hearing, U.S. Border Patrol officials admitted that the “virtual fencing”, which was to account for nearly 300 miles of the 700 mile fence, is not working as promised and will not be operational for at least 3 more years. The technology encountered numerous problems that included: software integration, synching cameras with the radar systems, trouble identifying objects among desert trees, rain interference, and easy targets for drug traffickers to disable.
“Border security cannot wait any longer and we cannot depend on failed virtual fencing or vehicle barriers that won’t stop pedestrians,” said Senator DeMint. “We must keep our promise to America and build a real fence to secure our borders immediately.”
“Over half a million new illegal immigrants enter our nation every year. But this is more than an immigration problem. The southern border is where the majority of cocaine is smuggled in, and where heroin, marijuana and crystal meth flood into our country. It’s where the disgusting and immoral practice of human trafficking happens, with thousands of people sold into modern day slavery and prostitution. And most importantly, the border is a national security threat that leaves America vulnerable to terrorists and weapons of mass destruction,” said Senator DeMint.
What the heck has taken them so damn long to figure it out? We showed them our outrage when they tried to force amnesty down our throats, we should show them our support for finally cluing in.
This is just another sign that Republicans got the hint last year. They’re ready to get tough.
Senate Republicans are set to announce Wednesday the hardest-hitting package of immigration enforcement measures seen yet — one that would require jail time for illegal immigrants caught crossing the border, make it harder for them to open bank accounts and compel them to communicate in English when dealing with federal agencies.
Most of the bills stand little chance of being debated in the Democrat-controlled Congress, but the move by some of the Senate’s leading Republicans underscores how potent the issue of immigration remains, particularly during a presidential election year.
The bills give Republicans a way to put pressure on the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to take a tougher stance on immigration. They also reflect a shift toward harsher immigration rhetoric and legislative proposals from both parties since Congress failed to pass a comprehensive overhaul in 2007.
The package, an enforcement smorgasbord assembled by at least eight lawmakers, consists of 11 bills, but could expand to include as many as 14. Some elements echo House bills, but others go beyond House proposals.
One would discourage states from issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants by docking 10 percent of highway funding from states that continue to do so. Another would extend the presence of National Guard on the border and a third would end language assistance at federal agencies and the voting booth for people with limited English ability.
A bill by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who is leading the effort, would impose a maximum two-year jail sentence on someone caught crossing the border for a second time.
… Other bills in the package would:
• Block federal funding from cities that bar their police from asking about immigration status.
Give the Department of Homeland Security the authority to use information from the Social Security Administration to target illegal immigrants.
• Require construction of 700 miles of fencing along the Southern border, not including vehicle barriers.
• Impose sanctions on countries that refuse to repatriate their citizens.
• Deport any immigrant, legal or illegal, for one drunken-driving conviction.
• Enable local and state police to enforce federal immigration laws
And we now have the Senate Border Security Caucus:
Today, U.S. Sens. David Vitter (R- Louisiana), Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Elizabeth Dole (R-North Carolina), Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia), Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia), Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) and Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) announced the formation of the Border Security and Enforcement First Caucus.
The U.S. illegal immigrant population is the highest it has ever been. One in 25 residents currently living in the United States is here illegally. Over the last seven years, immigration has been the highest in history – 10.9 million immigrants arrived, over half of them (five million plus) without legal status.
The Caucus members recognize that Congress has presented the American people with a false choice in solving the illegal immigration problem – give illegal aliens amnesty or round them up and deport them en masse. The principle mission of the Caucus is to promote a true, achievable alternative: attrition through enforcement and border security. Living illegally in the United States will become more difficult and less satisfying over time when the government – at ALL LEVELS – enforces all of the laws already on the books.
The Caucus will be a platform to let Americans know that some in the U.S. Senate are continuing to make sure that the laws already on the books will be enforced, act as the voice of those concerned citizens who have expressed their opinions time and time again for interior enforcement and border security, push for stronger border security and interior enforcement legislation, and work together in the U.S. Senate to defeat future legislation that offers amnesty.
Gee, and what a surprise — all Republicans, no Democrats.
I don’t want to get too excited, but this all looks very promising. I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea at all to send these Senators calls and/or e-mails of support — like I said, we railed on them for amnesty, we should let them know that they’ll have our support for giving us good policy. You can get their e-mail addresses and phone numbers here. We shouldn’t only be active in politics when things are going badly; all politicians are supposed to be public servants, so don’t hesitate to tell them your opinion on an issue, and don’t only express the negative opinions, either.
In any case, this makes me very hopeful. It’s unlikely that we’ll see many results from this, given that Dems are all for open borders, rampant multiculturalism, and lax national security, but who knows what could happen if our guys keep the pressure on? Feel free to e-mail the Senators with the (D) next to their name and encourage them to vote for the Complete the Fence Act, too.