In a dramatic breakthrough on immigration reform, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) is offering up an amendment to break the log jam and address his and other GOP senators’ concerns about border security.
• Requires DHS Secretary and GAO Comptroller General to jointly certify that these triggers are met before Registered Provisional Immigrants (RPI) can adjust to Lawful Permanent Resident (“green card”) status:
1. 100% Situational Awareness – monitoring capability at every segment of Southern border
2. Full Operational Control – defined as at least a 90% apprehension rate along Southern border
3. Biometric Exit System – fully operational and in use at all air and sea ports of entry to which U.S. Customs and Border Protection is currently deployed; retains current law for land ports
4. Nationwide E-Verify System – must be implemented (identical to S.744)
• Mandates that DHS deploy newly defined border security metrics to gauge success or failure.
• Requires DHS to issue a Southern Border Security Strategy within 120 days to achieve operational control of every sector of the Southern border, and a 50 percent wait-time reduction at land ports of entry.Authorizes supplemental and emergency appropriations to improve border security, including $1 billion per year over 6 years for land port of entry infrastructure improvements and personnel.
• Allows DHS to enter into public-private partnerships to reduce port of entry wait times.
• Increases the number of Border Patrol and Customs Officers by 10,000 over 5 years.
• Authorizes a new grant program to allow Southern border state and local law enforcement agencies to effectively combat drug trafficking, human trafficking, human smuggling, and spillover violence.
• Allows USCIS to share critical information contained in legalization applications with federal law enforcement and national security agencies.
• Prohibits illegal aliens convicted of serious misdemeanors, such as domestic violence, aggravated assault, child abuse, violation of a protection order, and drunk driving, from receiving RPI status.
• Adds new authorities and tougher penalties to combat abusive human smuggling and human trafficking, including a federal money laundering predicate for human smuggling; and increased penalties for aggravated forms of the offense—e.g., involving death, forced labor, or sexual exploitation.
• Strengthens various law enforcement tools to target transnational criminal and terrorist organizations operating on the Southern border.
An adviser for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) authorized only to speak on background told me, “We’ve been talking with his office about border security for weeks, and have been supportive of his efforts. His plan is very much in line with what Sen. Rubio has been discussing publicly.”
A Cornyn spokeswoman says that Cornyn will start talking to his colleagues today. The plan uses the same framework as the Gang of Eight and is intended to beef up the public safety components. If this is accepted the Gang of Eight will have his vote. The spokeswoman stressed the senators “wants to see something pass that will actually solve the problem aka RESULTS.”
If this works — meaning Dems don’t balk and many Republicans sign on — the bill could, in fact, win a super majority. It will be interesting to see what objections the anti-immigration forces raise now.