News Releases

Friday, August 10, 2007

Isakson, Chambliss: Border Security Announcement Positive Step Forward
Senators renew call for emergency supplemental funding bill

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., today praised the announcement by the Bush Administration to implement a series of border security measures as a positive step forward but renewed their call for President Bush to send an emergency supplemental bill to Congress to fully fund border security. 

The announcement by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez includes 25 steps to toughen security at America's borders, strengthen interior and worksite enforcement, streamline existing temporary worker programs, crack down on employers who knowingly hire illegally workers and enhance worker verification mechanisms.

"This is a very positive step toward restoring credibility to our broken immigration system. The American people have sent the message loud and clear that they want us to secure the border first before we deal with any other immigration issues," Isakson said. "However, the only way to truly secure our borders is with the commitment of funding. We need the President to send an emergency supplemental spending bill to Congress to completely fund all of the measures necessary to secure our border. I would submit that the American people would tell you there's no greater emergency right now than securing our border."

"This news is certainly encouraging, and I am pleased the many, many months of dialogue and concerns expressed by countless Georgians are resonating with the administration," said Chambliss.  "The Southern border of this country has been an open sieve for far too long and while today's announcement is a good step, we believe an emergency supplemental spending bill is the best solution to ensuring border security.  Johnny Isakson came up with the idea for the trigger, and I am pleased the administration has recognized the importance of this border security first concept in their announcement.  Only when the border is secure will credibility be restored with the American people, and we're going to continue to press this issue. I am also pleased the Administration is taking a close look at reforming the H-2A program. This reform will ensure that our nation's farmers and ranchers can utilize the existing legal temporary worker program."

Highlights of today's announcement from the Administration include:

  • Implementing the following border security measures by December 31, 2008: 18,300 Border Patrol agents; 370 miles of fencing; 300 miles of vehicle barriers; 105 camera and radar towers; three additional Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV); and ensuring that 1,700 more Border Patrol agents and an additional UAV are added in 2009.
  • Maintaining the policy of "catch and return" for illegal aliens apprehended at the border.  For years, limited detention space forced the release of many illegal border crossers from nations other than Mexico with nothing more than a Notice to Appear for a hearing before an immigration judge. Many aliens ignored these notices and instead blended into U.S. society.  The Administration has ended this practice that became known as "catch and release" and instituted a policy of "catch and return," ensuring that all removable aliens caught trying to cross the border illegally are held until they can be removed. 
  • Strengthening legal efforts to keep international gang members out of the United States.  Gangs are at the root of many U.S. crime problems today, and many of the most dangerous gangs draw significant membership from abroad.  The federal government already denies visas to known members of certain gangs from China, the former Soviet Union, and El Salvador.  Today, the President is directing the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to expand this list of dangerous organized gangs from other nations and to ensure that members of those gangs are barred from entry into the United States. 
  • Delivering regular "State of the Border" reports. These reports by the Secretary of Homeland Security will keep the American people informed of the federal government's progress in securing the border and hold the Administration accountable for continuing improvement.
  • Reforming the H-2A agricultural seasonal worker program.  No sector of the American economy requires a legal flow of foreign workers more than agriculture, which has begun to experience severe labor shortages as the Southern border has tightened.  The President has therefore directed the Department of Labor to review the regulations implementing the H-2A program and to institute changes that will provide farmers with an orderly and timely flow of legal workers, while protecting the rights of laborers.