Floor and Committee Statements

Wednesday, July 25, 2007 -

Floor Statement on Border Security

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Floor Statement on Border Security
Remarks as Delivered on the Senate Floor

Mr. President, I associate myself with the remarks that I have been able to hear this morning by Senator Gregg, Senator Sessions, Senator Graham, and others. I rise to bring forward--I cannot bring it forward because they will not let me call it up, but at least talk about amendment 2392 offered by myself and Senator Chambliss from Georgia. To that end, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record our joint letters--Senator Chambliss and my joint letters--of June 12 and July 12.

Mr. President, the reason I entered these two letters is they reflect precisely what the amendment does. The amendment offered is a sense-of-the-Senate amendment. It is the sense of the Senate that expresses the following: This is a team sport. It takes the executive and the legislative branch to get our Nation secured, our homeland security, and in this case, our borders secured. The letters I submitted by Senator Chambliss and myself are letters to the President of the United States--one submitted during the debate on immigration, one submitted 2 weeks following the debate on immigration--asking the President of the United States to send an emergency supplemental to the floor of the House and Senate to fund all of the border security measures we have passed, such as the fence bill, which we authorized last year, and the five key provisions of the immigration bill that were lost that deal with border security. That is Border Patrol agents; the unmanned aerial vehicles and ground positioning radar; it is detention facilities; and, most importantly, most importantly, it is the biometrical secure ID which gives you the redundancy to see to it that we finally stop the forged document business, close the border, remove the attractive nuisance to come to America, and motivate people to go back and come in the right way and the legal way.

Some may say, well, an emergency supplemental is not the way to go. I would submit it is the only way to go. If anybody doesn't think this is an emergency, I don't know about your phone system, but mine broke down with the volume of calls we had last month. The Senate broke down with the volume of calls and the weight and the complexity of this issue. But, most importantly of all, we broke down because the people of the United States do not have the confidence in this Congress or the President that they will secure the border.

There is no question that this country needs an immigration policy system that works for high skilled, moderately skilled and lower skilled. There is no question that we need to review our entire immigration system. There is no question it needs fixing. But there is equally no question that is never going to take place until the American people feel we have secured the homeland and, in particular, have secured the border to the South with Mexico.

We know what it takes to do it. It is delineated in the bill that was on the floor of the Senate a month ago. We know what it takes to do it. We know how to do it. In fact, in the last year, we developed an entire new system of building fences that has allowed us to accelerate barrier construction along the border. It is being done right now at San Luis, between San Luis and Yuma, AZ. I have been there and seen it. It speeds up the system, and it is foolproof. It gets the redundancy we need in our security system to make it work.

I am not asking the Senate to do anything I have not asked the President of the United States to do. I think every day we wait is a serious mistake. We know it will take a minimum of 24 months to do the biometric ID, train the number of Border Patrol officers we need to add, build the 30,000 detention cells, put the unmanned aerial vehicles in the sky, and get the ground positioning radar and ground sensor systems in. We know it is going to take 24 months. But it is going to take 24 months from when we finally have the political courage and will to fund the money. The only way to ensure that is for us to join hands with the President, pass a singular bill without any other subject on it, that appropriates the emergency funds necessary to accomplish those things.

It is not complicated, and I do not think it should be controversial. It is my hope when the majority reads this amendment and decides on whatever their posturing would be on this bill, that they understand this is a clear, concise message that a unanimous Senate should send to the President of the United States to see to it that we start that 24-month clock by funding the money and appropriating it and getting the job done. This issue is too critical; it is too important. It is job one and we must do it now.

Exhibit 1

June 12, 2007

President GEORGE W. BUSH,
The White House,
Washington, DC.

DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: Although the Senate's effort to reform our nation's immigration laws through the Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act of 2007 is stalled, illegal immigration remains our nation's number one domestic issue. We therefore believe it is incumbent upon us and our colleagues to tackle this issue and not leave this problem for future generations to solve.

As we travel around Georgia and continue to hear from our constituents, the message from a majority of Georgians is that they have no trust that the United States Government will enforce the laws contained in this new legislation and secure the border first. This lack of trust is rooted in the mistakes made in 1986 and the continued chaos surrounding our immigration laws. Understandably, the lack of credibility the federal government has on this issue gives merit to the skepticism of many about future immigration reform.

We believe the way to build greater support for immigration reform in the United States Senate and among the American public is to regain the trust in the ability of the federal government to responsibly administer immigration programs and enforce immigration laws. There is bipartisan agreement that we need to secure our borders first, and we believe this approach will serve as a platform towards addressing the other issues surrounding immigration reform.

To that end, we believe that you and your administration could alleviate many of the fears of our constituents by calling for an emergency supplemental bill to fully fund the border and interior security initiatives contained in legislation currently pending in the Senate, as well as any outstanding existing authorizations. Such a move would show your commitment to securing the border first and to stopping the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs into our nation. It will also work towards restoring the credibility of the federal government on this critical issue.

We urge you to carefully consider this request, and thank you for the opportunity to express the views of the people of Georgia on this matter.

Sincerely,
Saxby Chambliss, Senator.
Johnny Isakson, Senator.

--

July 12, 2007

President GEORGE W. BUSH,
The White House,
Washington, DC.

DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: On June 12, 2007, we wrote to you regarding our commitment to securing our nation's borders and suggesting a way forward on comprehensive immigration reform. Now that the Senate has again rejected the comprehensive approach embodied in the Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act of 2007, we want to underscore our belief that illegal immigration remains our nation's top domestic issue. Although the Senate has turned its attention to other legislative priorities, the American public, who daily encounters the effects of our current failed immigration system, has not forgotten the duty we have, as their federal representatives, to address the issue of illegal immigration.

Many Americans from across the nation have become engaged in this issue, and shared with us their wide ranging and passionate opinions on how we can reform our immigration system. While there is no consensus on the best approach to comprehensive immigration reform, there is near unanimity in the belief that we should secure our borders first. We sincerely believe the greatest obstacle we face with the American people on the issue of immigration reform is trust. The government's past failures to uphold and enforce our immigration laws have eroded respect for those laws and eliminated the faith of the American people in the ability of the government to responsibly administer immigration programs.

We believe there is a clear way to regain the trust of the American public in the competency of the federal government to enforce our immigration laws and manage our immigration system: We should prove our abilities with actions rather than make promises. To that end, we believe that you and your administration could alleviate many of the fears of our constituents by calling for an emergency supplemental bill to fully fund the border and interior security initiatives contained in the Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act of 2007, as well as any outstanding existing authorizations. Such a move would show your commitment to securing the border first, stopping the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs into our nation, and creating a tamper-proof biometric identification card for foreign workers. It will also work towards restoring the credibility of the federal government on this critical issue.

We urge you to carefully consider this request, and thank you for the opportunity to express the views of the people of Georgia on this matter.

Sincerely,
Saxby Chambliss, Senator.
Johnny Isakson, Senator.