Senate Moves Immigration Bill Forward By Needlessly Attacking Border Communities

On June 24th, the Senate voted 67-27 to advance the latest version of its federal immigration bill (S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Competitiveness, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013), which includes a dramatic increase in the militarization of the US-Mexico border.

According to Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera:

“While it’s critical that the legislative process continues, the Corker-Hoeven amendment is unwarranted – and it is disgusting that it is being used to hold hostage the aspirations of millions of New Americans. For years we have seen how militarization, in the absence of legalization, has already led to a human rights crisis, increased deaths on the border, and created financial incentive for human trafficking.

Despite net zero migration, the current version of the bill calls for an additional armed 20,000 border patrol agents, increased drone surveillance, and up to 700 miles of border fencing at an estimated cost of $48 billion over 10 years. None of which has to do with creating new pathways for aspiring Americans to become citizens, other than appeasing politicians who are catering to a xenophobic and marginal base. This reckless spending is also in sharp contrast to the economic benefits that a legalization process would provide.”

The latest independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projection on the bipartisan Senate bill shows that the bill will decrease the federal deficit by $197 billion over the next 10-year period.

In Wisconsin, legalization will boost our economy tremendously, at a time when our state ranks a dismal 44th in the nation in job creation. According to the Center for American Progress, Wisconsin will receive over $6 billion in taxpayer revenue over a ten-year period, as well as an increase in new jobs once millions earn a pathway to citizenship – making more resources available for schools, infrastructure, and local services.

As the legislative process moves forward, Voces de la Frontera calls on our elected officials in Wisconsin to pass a bill this summer which prioritizes a broad path to citizenship, protects the rights of all workers (both native and immigrant), and keeps our families together.