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For Immediate Release
June 12, 2013

Border Security Before Legalization

Prepared Floor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee
Comprehensive Immigration Reform, S.744
Border Security Before Legalization
Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I talked a bit yesterday about my amendment, which is pending.  I’d like to take a few minutes to discuss why I think my amendment is a good first step at restoring the faith of the American people in the government.  

It’s no secret that we in Washington have very low approval ratings.  A lot of people, especially in recent weeks, wonder if they can trust the government.  They have lost confidence in their leaders.  They question our ability to protect their privacy.  They question our capacity to protect their security.  

This is especially true when you talk about border security.  They don’t think we’re doing enough.  They say we don’t need to pass another law.  They just don’t understand why we cannot stop the flow and simply enforce the laws on the books.  It comes up at my town meetings in Iowa.

But, the bill before us complicates things.  It takes a step backward on an issue that Americans care deeply about.  It says we’ll legalize millions now, and we’ll worry about border security in five or ten years down the road.  

The authors say they’re open to improving the bill.  Well, my amendment does that.  My amendment improves the trigger that jump starts the legalization program.  It ensures that the border is secured before one person gets legal status under this Act.  

The American people are compassionate.  Many can come to terms with a legalization program.  But, many would say that a legalization program should be tied to border security or enforcement.  

Let me give you some examples.  

Bloomberg recently released a poll in which they asked the following question:

"Congress is debating changing immigration laws. Do you support or oppose a revision of immigration policies that would provide a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.?"

46 percent said they’d support.

They went on to ask the same respondents about elements to an immigration bill.  85% said they favored "Strengthening border security and creating a system to track foreigners entering and leaving the country."

In Iowa, a poll by the Des Moines Register found that 58 percent of respondents were okay with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants after the borders were secured.   

Almost every poll shows the same result.  Sure, people would consider a legalization program, but it’s almost always tied to a condition of border security.  

But, the American people don’t think we’re doing enough to secure our border.  In a poll conducted by Anderson Robbins Research and Shaw & Company, 60 percent of those polled said the current level of security at the country’s borders is not strict enough.  Also, 69 percent of respondents also said they favor requiring completion of new border security measures first, before making other changes to immigration policies.  

Unfortunately, too many people have been led to believe that this bill will force the Secretary of Homeland Security to secure the border.

It doesn’t.  

That’s why we need to pass my amendment.  It’s a good first step to ensuring that we stop the flow of illegal immigration.  We need to prove to the American people that we can do our job.  We need to show them that we’re committed to security.