Cornyn Wants Border Security Added to Immigration Bill

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn wants to add border security provisions before he will support the comprehensive immigration reform bill that is scheduled to go before the full Senate next week.

Ali Durkin, Medill News Service

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn wants to amend the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill to fix border security flaws in the measure that currently make it impossible to support, he said Wednesday.

The "Immigration Reform with Results Amendment" would mandate that specific border security triggers are met before the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country reach legal residency status, a necessary step for those whose ultimate goal is attaining naturalized citizenship.

An aide to the senator said Cornyn will file the amendment when the bill, authored by the Senate’s bipartisan coalition called the “Gang of Eight,” hits the upper chamber next week. Cornyn is the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Refugees and Border Security Subcommittee.

The amendment requires that the Department of Homeland Security, which includes U.S. Customs and Border Protection — whose agents oversee legal trade and migration to the U.S. at the country’s ports of entry — and the U.S. Border Patrol, achieve 100 percent situational awareness and operational control of the border within five years. The RESULTS amendment also authorizes at least $1 billion for infrastructure improvements at the ports, requires that wait times at the nation’s ports are reduced by 50 percent, mandates the nationwide use of the electronic employment verification system known as E-Verify, establishes a fingerprint-reading exit system at the ports, and prevents immigrants who have been convicted of certain crimes — like child or domestic abuse or drunk driving — from obtaining legal status.

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Several of the amendment’s measures were part of a stand-alone bill Cornyn filed in April with U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, who filed the House version. Cornyn said then that only about 875 miles of the 2,000-mile southern border were under operational control, according to a 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office. Under operational control, illegal crossers are either detected, deterred or apprehended at the border or within 100 miles of the border.

Cornyn’s announcement comes just one day after his GOP colleague from Texas, freshman U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, informed the Senate of his intent to vote against the current bill. Cruz’s complaints included, among other things, that the measure fails to secure the border or prevent future illegal migration. 

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