- The Washington Times
Thursday, June 20, 2013

Republican senators are nearing agreement on a border security amendment they hope can win over wavering votes on the immigration bill, but the head of the immigration agents’ union sent a letter to the two key senators Thursday warning that a narrow focus on border security will still leave the U.S. vulnerable.

Chris Crane, president of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, which represents ICE agents and officers, said the key to halting another future wave of illegal immigration is boosting interior enforcement — something he says is getting lost in the debate.

“I am eager to discuss with your offices the interior enforcement authorities and resources needed by ICE to ensure a lawful immigration system in the future,” Mr. Crane wrote in the letter, obtained by The Washington Times. “Without such reforms, any immigration plan is destined to fail and any proposed amendment to fix the bill is not a fix at all.”

GOP Sens. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Bob Corker of Tennessee have been leading a group trying to write stiffer border security provisions to add to the Senate bill. Late Wednesday, they told reporters they were close to a deal.

The Senate bill requires the government to spend money on border security, but doesn’t have any metrics for proving results, and allows illegal immigrants to get citizenship rights regardless of success or failure on the border.

The Congressional Budget Office said this week in its analysis of the Senate bill that only about 25 percent of future illegal immigration would be halted — which means 7.5 million new illegal immigrants would come over the next 10 years, creating a future wave for the next potential legalization.

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According to the CBO, though, the vulnerable part of the nation’s system isn’t the border so much as it is interior enforcement. The agency said people will come into the country legally using the new guest-worker programs included in the bill, but will refuse to go home when their time is up.

Some senators have said a better entry-exit system that would check the fingerprints of those coming into or leaving the U.S. could help crack down on overstays.

But Mr. Crane said without more agents and the power to go after immigrants, an entry-exit system isn’t enough.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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