On June 27, 2013, in a vote of 68-32, the US Senate passed comprehensive immigration legislation (S. 744 “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Reform Act.”) Passage of this bill is important, although it is not perfect, in order to advance real immigration reform, including increasing the number of visas for legal immigration (family and employment-based), legalizing undocumented aliens who have come here to work and creating new visa categories that will make our country more globally competitive (entrepreneurs visa).
Unfortunately, the compromise exacted in order to bring on board Republicans was an unnecessary, wasteful and harmful border security amendment. This amendment requires an additional $40 billion in funding for border security, including the building of a 700-mile wall and the hiring of 20,000 additional border patrol agents. This move is not needed, since the US government has already spent approximately $17 million in recent years for border security and border crossings are on the decline because of the recession. Also, the costs of this behemoth of an amendment will be carried by the undocumented aliens who will already be saddled with extremely high immigration fees. Furthermore, our southwestern border will now look like an interminable militarized zone unequaled anywhere in the world except at the border between North and South Korea.
The legislation faces an uphill battle in the US House of Representatives, which is taking a restrictive and defensive stance to immigration reform under Speaker of the House John Boehner. He has vowed to not take up the Senate’s bipartisan legislation and to only proceed on the House’s piecemeal immigration bills if a majority of Republicans agree. This is completely outrageous and anti-democratic, especially after the tireless efforts of a bipartisan group in the Senate, which has extensively debated all aspects of this bill. For all of its efforts to come to naught because of a hostile minority in the House would not only be harmful to the US but would fly in the face of the wishes of the majority of Americans.