U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today issued the following statement regarding his vote to begin debate on S. 744, the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act:"
"Over the course of the past few weeks, I have heard from people across Mississippi who have expressed their concerns with the immigration bill before the Senate. I share their concerns that the bill in its current form does not contain all of the reforms we need.
"I stand with the overwhelming majority of Mississippians who believe we must first secure our borders. Without a secure border, the problem of illegal immigration will continue. I do not believe the bill goes far enough to achieve that goal. We must remedy this problem by putting more patrol agents on the border, increasing the use of surveillance technology, and finishing the more than 700 miles of reinforced fencing.
"I oppose legislation that would grant legal status without penalties and issue welfare benefits to those have broken U.S. law. These individuals should not be able to go to the front of the line ahead of those who have patiently waited to gain legal access to our country.
"Simply put, current U.S. immigration policy is broken and in need of reform. I believe the legislation under consideration serves as a starting point for continued discussion about the future of immigration policy.
"A responsible way forward must recognize past failures to secure the border and unfulfilled promises for better enforcement. We should welcome this debate -- and confront the challenges of our day -- in a way that is deliberative, principled, and in adherence with the expectations of the American people. Robust debate has always been central to the Senate's function and purpose. Lasting and effective immigration reform requires a willingness to work on issues collaboratively and constructively.
"I will use this opportunity to stand up for Mississippi by offering amendments to implement a stronger border security strategy, interior security protections, and processes for employers to assess their employees' work rights."
Amendments to be filed and potentially offered by Senator Wicker to S. 744 include:
Withholding federal funding from states and localities that are or become sanctuary jurisdictions.
Striking the ability of undocumented immigrants to apply for provisional legal status if they have previously submitted frivolous asylum applications and failed to depart.
Doubling the fees that undocumented immigrants seeking legalization must pay. The current bill calls for illegal aliens to pay $1,000 to apply for provisional status and a similar amount to apply for a green card, but fee waivers would be available to some who are seeking legalization.
Requiring the Secretary of Homeland Security to adjust all fees and penalties under Title II for inflation.
Requiring the Secretary of Homeland Security to commence expedited removal proceedings against persons if they are found to be ineligible for provisional status because they are a gang member; someone who committed an aggravated felony; or someone who committed an offense against a child or a domestic violence offense.
Ensuring the Secretary of Homeland Security revokes an illegal immigrant's provisional legal status if they are no longer eligible, knowingly used fraudulent documentation, and did not abide by the continuous physical presence requirement in the underlying bill.
Requiring legalization applicants to disclose previous Social Security Numbers (SSNs) used and allowing certain agencies to notify the rightful SSN assignees of the misuse of their SSNs.