05.09.13

Judiciary Committee Approves Bipartisan Leahy Amendment On Fencing

. . . Amendment Improves Accountability, Prevents Fencing At The Northern Border

WASHINGTON -- The Senate Judiciary Committee, on a bipartisan voice vote, Thursday approved an amendment to the immigration bill authored by Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and cosponsored by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) to provide the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with more flexibility to spend the $1.5 billion allocated in the bill for fence building.

The amendment addresses a request from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, who in April testified on the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, , being debated today in the Judiciary Committee.  The Leahy-Cornyn amendment gives DHS flexibility to use some of the $1.5 billion allocation on infrastructure and technology to help deter unlawful border crossings, while $1 billion still must go toward traditional fencing and related repairs.  It also requires the Department to consult with states, local and tribal governments, property owners as it implements its fencing strategy.  Additionally, the amendment bars the creation of a fence at the Northern Border. 

Leahy, who has said that the Obama administration’s successful border enforcement has paved the way for broader immigration reform that provides an earned path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, said his bipartisan amendment gives DHS more flexibility while encouraging the Department to consider the impact of border fending on local communities. 

“These modest, smart, and commonsense improvements to the fencing provision are exactly what is needed to make us safer and more secure,” Leahy said.  “I still question whether we should spend that much on fencing. But this is an improvement to the bill.”

Updated results can be viewed online.

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