US Senator Kelly Ayotte - Immigration Update: The Border Surge

Dear Friend and Supporter,

Following up on my most recent message, I wanted to update you on Senate action this week on the immigration reform bill.

Monday evening, the Senate voted 67-27 to begin debate on the border surge amendment I'm cosponsoring that would finally secure our southern border and stop future waves of illegal immigration. The tough border security provisions in the Hoeven-Corker amendment double the number of border security agents at the southern border, double the amount of border fencing, ensure the best border surveillance and security technology is in place, and require full implementation of E-Verify and the electronic entry/exit system at all air and seaports of entry in the U.S. These are tough requirements that must be met before Registered Provisional Immigrants would be eligible for lawful permanent resident (green card) status.

Please see the below Myth vs. Fact section, which includes facts about what this amendment does and counters some of the false information you may have heard.

MYTH: This amendment will allow illegal immigrants to receive green cards before the border is secure.

FACT: The amendment contains triggers which ensure that Registered Provisional Immigrants (RPIs) cannot receive green cards until at least 10 years after the enactment of the bill, AND the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, the Secretary of Defense, the Inspector General, and GAO, certifies that the following five triggers have been met:

  • An additional 20,000 Border Patrol agents have been deployed, maintained and stationed along the southern border, more than doubling the current force.
  • The Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy is deployed and operational, meaning the specified technology, infrastructure, and personnel has been procured, funded, and is in current use to achieve effective control of the border. The Strategy must meet certain technological requirements, including: 488 fixed camera systems; 232 mobile surveillance systems; 4595 unattended ground sensors, including seismic, imaging, and infrared; 820 handheld equipment devices, including handheld thermal imaging systems and night vision goggles; 4 unmanned aircraft systems; 17 UH-1N helicopters; 8 AS-350 light enforcement helicopters; 15 Blackhawk helicopters; and 30 marine vessels.
  • The Southern Border Fencing Strategy has been implemented, and at least 700 miles of pedestrian fencing has been completed along the southern border, double the amount that is currently in place.
  • The mandated electronic visa entry/exit system has been fully implemented at all air and sea ports of entry where U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are currently deployed.
  • E-Verify is being used by all employers in the country, making it nearly impossible to work in the U.S. illegally.

MYTH: This amendment does nothing to discourage visa overstays.

FACT: Visa overstays currently account for 40% of those unlawfully present in our country. In addition to the exit system, the amendment mandates the initiation of deportation proceedings for at least 90% of visa overstays- holding DHS accountable for failing to enforce the law and targeting an issue that is at the core of a policy of de facto amnesty. The amendment also requires extensive reporting to Congress every six months to facilitate oversight of the overstay issue.

MYTH: The Hoeven-Corker amendment grants instant amnesty.

FACT: In order to transition to lawful permanent resident (green card) status, unlawful immigrants would be required to pay a fine, pass criminal and national security background checks, and start paying taxes. Only after ALL FIVE "triggers" of the amendment have been fully implemented AND at least 10 years have passed can RPIs apply for a green card.

I hope you find this information helpful, and I look forward to providing another update later in the week.

Thank you for your friendship,

Kelly Ayotte
Kelly Ayotte
U.S. Senator