During the Senate immigration debate last Friday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) enthusiastically described the breakthrough he had brokered with Republican senators who wanted tougher border security measures. In outlining the deal laid out in the Corker-Hoeven amendment, Schumer contradicted the arguments he presented nine days earlier in opposition to the border-security amendment proposed by John Cornyn (R-Texas).
In fairness to Schumer, it is important to note that he has said last week's Congressional Budget Office scoring of the immigration bill's fiscal effects made it possible (on paper, at least) to fund the Corker-Hoeven security amendment. Nevertheless, that amendment's border-security proposals, which Schumer labeled "the border surge", are not only far more expensive than those proposed by Cornyn, they are also far more expansive in their vision of what is feasible at the border.
Here are excerpts from Schumer's statements.
Schumer on June 21, Supporting the Corker-Hoeven Amendment:
- The border surge is breathtaking in its size and scope. This deal will deploy an unprecedented number of boots on the ground and drones in the air. It would double the size of Border Patrol agents from its current level to over 40,000. It will finish the job of completing the fence along the entire 700-mile stretch of the southwest border, and it will enumerate, on a sector-by-sector basis, lists of cutting-edge tools and equipment that will boost surveillance and apprehension efforts, including sensors, surveillance towers, and more unmanned drones. In other words, the border surge plan calls for a breathtaking show of force that will discourage future waves of illegal immigration.
- This compromise will inundate the southwest border with manpower and equipment. It not only calls for finishing a literal fence, it will create a virtual human fence of Border Patrol agents. Under the border surge, the Border Patrol will have the capacity to deploy an armed agent 24 hours a day, seven days a week to stand guard every 1,000 feet from San Diego, Calif., to Brownsville, Texas.
Schumer on June 12, Opposing the Cornyn Amendment, Whose Most Prominent Feature Would Have Added 10,000 Border Agents, 3,500 more than Was Proposed in the Original Senate Bill:
- That is a huge expense, and an unnecessary expense because our bill, the proposal that is before us, does a huge amount on border security for much lower cost. … So I would suggest to my colleague that if he wants to add 10,000 Border Patrol — which most experts have told us will not do close to as good a job as the drones and the helicopters and the more mobile assets. And the reason is very simple. He knows as well as I do. He knows the border better than I do. We do not have roads on most of the border. What is Border Patrol going to do? There are no roads. They are impassable.
- So the bottom line is that not only is the cost of this amendment probably exceeding the trust fund by itself, but it will take a highly efficient way of preventing people from crossing the border and replace it with an inefficient way that no experts I have talked to … No expert I have talked to says the best way to control people from crossing the border illegally — which I desperately want to do — works better with a huge amount of personnel, unallocated.
- The bottom line is very simple. We have carefully thought this through. We think we have maximized the effectiveness for about one-third of the money our colleague is talking about.
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