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Sessions: Immigration Bill Includes 'Shocking Changes'

Image: Sessions: Immigration Bill Includes 'Shocking Changes'

By Todd Beamon   |   Friday, 21 Jun 2013 10:55 PM

Sen. Jeff Sessions on Friday blasted the increased border security measures added to the sweeping immigration legislation making its way through the U.S. Senate, noting “some shocking changes that actually further weaken the underlying bill.”

“We have identified grave and deep flaws in the modified bill,” the Alabama Republican said in a statement. “The special interests who wrote these provisions know exactly what they do and designed them not to work, but I fear some of the senators who sponsored this amendment have no idea they’re even there.”

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On Thursday, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer and two GOP senators, Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota, introduced an amendment to the immigration reform bill proposed by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators in April.

The amendment calls for the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents to be doubled, to a total of 40,000, and for the increased use of surveillance technology along the border. This would include unmanned drones, cameras, and ground sensors.

In addition, the amendment would double the amount of border fencing required under the legislation, from 350 miles to 700 miles. Currently, about 40 miles of fencing is situated along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Sessions, who has long criticized the legislation, said the new amendment — all 1,187 pages of it — “was dropped on the Senate floor” on Friday. “Members and staff have only until Monday afternoon to read through this modified proposal.”

He charged that the amendment did not change the legislation’s “amnesty-first framework.”

“Instead, it goes even further and creates an automatic amnesty for future illegal aliens. If you overstay your visa in the future, you can still apply for a green card and become a citizen.

“It is permanent lawlessness,” Session said. “Joined with existing language that restricts future enforcement, it guarantees unending illegal immigration.”

The additional Border Patrol agents cannot be hired before 2017, under the amendment, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has only five years to raise the total number of hires to 20,000.

Sessions cited data from the National Association of Former Border Patrol Agents that say the hiring of so many agents could normally take up to 20 years because of background checks and other factors.

“It’s never going to be happen,” the senator said.
Further, American taxpayers could end up paying as much as $38 billion under the amendment because visa fees would increase for legal immigrants, but not for illegals, Sessions said.

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Under the 2007 reform legislation that died under heavy criticism in the Senate, amnesty applicants had to pay up to $8,000, compared with only $2,000 in the current proposed legislation — which is “subject to numerous waivers. This favors illegal over legal immigrants,” Sessions said.

“The Gang of Eight’s proposal, modified or not, still guarantees three things: amnesty, lower wages, and higher unemployment.”

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