Determines Senate Measure Won’t Solve Border Security, Enforcement Issues

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today voted against passage of the Senate’s immigration reform bill, determining that the legislation will not solve the border security or enforcement problems that now characterize illegal immigration in the United States.

The Senate on Thursday voted (68-32) to approve an immigration reform bill (S.744) that would launch a process to grant legal status to the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants now in the United States. It pledges $46 billion to secure the nation’s borders.

“The Senate bill is fundamentally flawed. It represents a headlong rush to offer a path toward citizenship for those here illegally, with more promises that illegal crossings on the Southwest border might finally end. For all its reported benefits, the Congressional Budget Office also reported that it will increase unemployment, suppress wages and only reduce illegal crossings by 25 percent,” Cochran said.

“The debate on this legislation has not resulted in changes that would guarantee to the people of my state that America’s borders will be truly secured or that illegal entries into our nation will end. I cannot support this bill,” he said.

“The United States needs to improve its immigration policies and consistently enforce laws already on the books. I believe our nation would be more secure and better able to enjoy the benefits of welcoming new citizens if the Senate had focused first on securing the border and fixing flaws in legal immigration programs,” he said.

During the three-week debate on S.744, Cochran voted against the motion to proceed to the bill and consistently voted against tabling amendments to strengthen border security. The Senator cosponsored amendments to make certain visa programs more efficient and effective. In the end, however, the bill the Senate approved does not contain important reforms related to agriculture worker programs, and it does not fully reform the system employers use to verify the legal status of workers before hiring them.

Cochran has consistently supported increased border security funding as a member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, in addition to supporting guest worker policy improvements that would benefit agriculture, seafood and other industries in Mississippi and the nation. Cochran opposed inadequate immigration reform efforts in 1986 and 2007.



Wicker Votes ‘No’ on Immigration Reform Bill
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today voted to oppose passage of the immigration reform bill, S. 744, known as the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.”

“I voted against passage of the immigration bill because the legislation is deeply flawed and if enacted would not fix our broken system,” Wicker said. “The Corker-Hoeven amendment, in my view, improved the enforcement provisions of the bill. However, more work needed to be done to alleviate my concerns – and those of my constituents – to ensure that we stop the current onslaught of illegal immigration once and for all.”

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 68-32.

Below are descriptions of six amendments that Senator Wicker introduced to improve the immigration reform bill. These amendments were not included in the Senate-passed bill.

End ‘Sanctuary Cities’: The term refers to any state or jurisdiction that has a policy, practice, or law that prohibits state or local police from assisting federal authorities in enforcing immigration laws. Under the Wicker amendment, these jurisdictions would be denied State Criminal Alien Assistance Program funds and law enforcement grants from the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice.

The amendment would encourage information-sharing by law enforcement officials and stipulate that individuals who violate the immigration law are included in the National Crime Information Center Database. Finally, it would ensure states have access to federal technology that is helpful in identifying immigrants who are inadmissible or deportable.

Double the Penalty Fees: This amendment would double the penalties – from $1,000 to $2,000 – that illegal immigrants must pay at various steps in the legalization process. A $1,000 penalty amounts to far less than what is often paid to so-called “coyotes” who help smuggle people across the border.

Require the DHS Secretary to Adjust All Fees and Penalties for Inflation: This amendment would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to adjust penalties and fees annually for inflation, just as many other federal programs do. Adjusting for inflation annually would help ensure that the fees are actually effective in covering some of the bill’s implementation costs, as intended.

Prohibit Applicants Who Have Filed Frivolous Applications for Asylum: By law, those who knowingly file a frivolous application (containing statements or responses that are deliberately fabricated) are permanently barred from receiving any benefits under the “Immigration and Nationality Act.” The Wicker amendment would strike the ability of illegal immigrants to apply for provisional legal status if they have previously filed a frivolous application for asylum.

Expedite the Removal Proceedings of Illegal Immigrants with Serious Criminal Offenses: This amendment would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to initiate expedited removal proceedings against those who are deemed ineligible for provisional legal status because they belong to a gang; have committed an aggravated felony; or committed an offense against a child or a domestic violence offense.

Ensure Those Found Ineligible Have Their Provisional Legal Status Revoked: This amendment would clarify that the Secretary of Homeland Security should revoke the provisional legal status of an applicant if he or she is found to be ineligible; used fraudulent documentation; or did not fulfill the continuous physical presence requirement in this bill.