Border Security: A Key Focus of Debate on Immigration Reform

by Ronald Shapiro
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Even though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has called for an end to debate on the S. 744 immigration reform bill, there is sure to be further debate in the House on the topic of enhanced border security, a legal predicate in S. 744 that must be attained before the federal government awards Lawful Permanent Resident status to undocumented immigrants who are currently in the U.S.

The bill, as currently written, provides for a number of border security enhancements, including:

  • The hiring of 3,500 customs and border protection officers;
  • Authorization for the construction of additional fencing, including double-fencing in “high risk” areas;
  • The deployment of drones and cameras for 24-hour surveillance;
  • The hiring of additional judges, prosecutors and staff to prosecute criminal violations at the borders; and
  • Up to $6.5 billion to implement fencing and security strategies, as well as specific recommendations of the Southern Border Security Commission.

The current bill also provides that several benchmarks must be hit before undocumented immigrants can use the new pathway to Lawful Permanent Resident (aka “green card”) status. Among the predicates are the following:

  • A so-called Southern Border Security Strategy must be substantially deployed and operational;
  • A so-called Southern Border Fencing Strategy must be substantially completed;
  • A mandatory employment verification system for all employers must be implemented; and
  • An electronic exit tracking system at air and sea ports must be implemented.

Much of the concern voiced in the Senate centered on how to determine when the foregoing goals were achieved, and that topic is sure to be discussed at greater length in the House of Representatives, but there is continuing bipartisan support and motivation for achieving comprehensive legal immigration reform in 2013.

We will be tracking continuing developments in federal immigration reform as they occur, and look forward to bringing you more information in the months ahead about the progress of proposed reforms on Capitol Hill.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Ronald Shapiro | Attorney Advertising

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