Sen. Patrick Leahy attacked the increased border security measures added to the proposed immigration reform bill in the U.S. Senate as a bonanza to the huge corporate interests that are quietly backing the legislation.
“I am sure there are federal contracting firms high-fiving at the prospect of all of the spending demanded by Senate Republicans in this amendment,” the Vermont Democrat, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on the Senate floor on Friday.
“The litany of expensive services, technology, and hardware mandated by this package is combined with an inexplicable waiver of many normal contracting rules,” Leahy said, Briebart News reports
. “This is a potential recipe for waste, fraud, and abuse.”
Under the amendment — proposed on Thursday by Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and two Republicans, Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota — the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents would be doubled, to a total of 40,000.
It also would require 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.
Leahy, who says he will begrudgingly support the amendment when it comes up for a vote on Monday, called the increased border measures “a Christmas wish list for Halliburton,” Briebart reports.
Numerous special interests have pushed for immigration reforms to benefit their industries, according to Briebart.
For instance, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s advocacy group, Fwd.us, includes such technology heavyweights as Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Al Gore’s billionaire business partner John Doerr. They have lobbied for provisions to benefit Silicon Valley firms.
The group has a fund-raising goal of $50 million.
“We will use online and offline advocacy tools to build support for policy changes,” Zuckerberg said, Briebart reports. “And we will strongly support those willing to take the tough stands necessary to promote these policies in Washington.”
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