House passes serious border fence bill

After standing like a stone wall all summer, the House Republicans are charging forward, joined by many Democrats. Roy Beck of Numbers USA informs us that the House of Representatives just passed, by a vote of 283 to 138 (with 64 Democrats voting yea), H.R. 6061, a stand-alone border security and fence bill.

According to Numbers USA, the bill would do the following:

1. would direct DHS to achieve and maintain “operational control” of our borders within 18 months of enactment;

2. would require annual reports from DHS to Congress regarding the progress made toward achieving and maintaining operational control over all international borders;

3. would require DHS to provide for at least two layers of reinforced fencing, the installation of additional physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors in five specified lengths (encompassing approximately 700 miles) along the United States’ southwestern border, with a specified span of border near Laredo, Texas required to be fenced by December 31, 2008;

4. would require surveillance cameras to be installed in the designated locations by May 30, 2007, and fence construction in those areas to be completed by May 30, 2008;

5. would allow other means of security (e.g., surveillance, etc.) if the topography of a specific area has an elevation grade exceeding 10 percent;

6. would require DHS to study – and report to Congress within one year of enactment on – the potential construction of a barrier system along the northern land and maritime borders, and requires the study to include the necessity of constructing such a barrier system as well as the feasibility of construction;

7. would require DHS to evaluate Customs and Border Protection’s authority to stop vehicles that enter the United States illegally and refuse to stop when ordered to do so by CBP personnel, and to review resouces available and CBP training related to stop illegally-entering vehicles.

Beck contnues:

The House is expected to vote on additional enforcement-only measures in the near future, including bills on: detention of dangerous aliens; fixing the court-created loophole that prohibits the expedited removal of Salvadorans; and clarifying the inherent authority of state/local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws during the normal course of their duties.

This action is an outgrowth of the summer-long series of field hearings which led House GOP leaders to conclude that the public is demanding an enforcement-first approach to immigration reform prior to the election. The goal is to pass a series of stand-alone enforcement bills and increase enforcement-related funding under FY 07 spending bills.

Republicans nearly united with us today—issue badly splits Democrats

Let me just remind you of the way that Border Security has been moved from backburner to frontburner status.

On the vote today:

Republicans were virtually unanimous in our favor.

97.3% of Republicans voted with us

2.7% of Republicans voted against us

Democrats were badly split over this Border issue.

32.7% of Democrats voted with us

66.8% of Democrats voted against us

… Although I do not regard the fence as the most important next tool—or even the 2nd or 3rd most important next tool—that we need to reduce illegal immigration and reduce the illegal population, it probably is the 4th most important. And it can create a huge symbol to the tens of millions of foreign nationals who are considering an illegal entry that the price is going up rapidly and we mean business about keeping them out.

I will come back to you soon on our next campaign of actions.

Perhaps the most important point that all of us are going to have to make is that the common Democratic complaint about the Republican strategy is correct. That is, they say the Republicans can’t be taken seriously about wanting to control illegal immigration as long as they don’t go after the hiring of illegal aliens.

We must all demand a bill to mandate verification of all new hires at all businesses. That probably is the No. 1 item for controlling illegal immigration and should not be put off beyond this fall.

Congratulations. All of your myriad actions on all kinds of subjects made this afternoon’s gigantic vote victory possible.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 14, 2006 05:26 PM | Send

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