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A Quick Session for Strike Forces and Border Drones

August 11, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Congress just can’t seem to give up legislating this August recess. Like the House did on Tuesday, the Senate is coming back into session on Thursday, after having adjourned last week for recess, to pass a couple more pieces of legislation. On the docket for the day are a border security bill and a resolution honoring the memory of former Senator Ted Stevens.

Unlike the House, which dragged all its members back from their districts (except for the 25 who didn’t show up), the Senate is going to use unanimous consent requests that will let them to pass the legislation with only two members actually present (east-coasters Sen. Ben Cardin [D, MD] and Sen. Chuck Schumer [D, NY]). According to The Hill, “[Majority Leader] Reid spokesman Jim Manley said he has received assurances that no Republicans plan to block the bill or the resolution, and aides to GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said there are also unaware of any objections.”

The border security bill is actually a redo. On August 5th, the day before they adjourned, the Senate passed the exact same text by substituting it via “Schumer amendment No. 4593, in the nature of a substitute” for the full text of a House border bill — H.R. 5875, the “Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2010.” But the House blue-slipped it and sent it back to the Senate. The Democratic House leadership decided that since the Schumer substitute amendment included a provision that would raise immigration visa fees, it is in violation of the origination clause of the Constitution, which states that “all bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representative.” The House decided that Schumer’s use of a House shell bill (i.e. an H.R.) did not satisfy this requirement. His amendment changed 100% of that bill’s text, so, despite still being H.R.5875, it no longer originated in the House.

But the House’s disagreements with the Schumer amendment were only procedural. In fact, they introduced a proper H.R. version of Schumer’s amendment (H.R. 6080) and passed it unanimously on Tuesday. The full summary of the border bill is below. Take a look at it. There are no fences in it (necessarily), but it’s got strike forces, drones and lots of other stuff.  

Provides for Border Enforcement at the Actual Border

 -Additional Funding for Border Personnel ($254 million)

-$176 million for 1,000 new Border Patrol agents to form a “strike force” to be deployed at areas most needed

-$39 million for Customs and Border Protection (to keep current levels of officers)

-$29 million for 250 new Customs and Border Protection officers at ports of entry

-$10 million for investigators to stop corruption in border patrol and customs and border protection

·$14 million for communication equipment for new officers

·$32 million to deploy unmanned aerial vehicle surveillance (i.e. drones) on border

$6 million to deploy forward operating bases along the border (as opposed to using current bases that are 100 miles away)

·Additional Funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ($80 million)

-$30 million for border interdiction

-$50 million for 250 new ICE personnel, including special agents, intelligence analysts, and support personnel

·Federal Law Enforcement Training Center ($8 million)

·Federal Judiciary resources for increased caseload ($10 million)

·Additional Funding For the Department of Justice ($196 million)

-U.S. Attorneys and other legal expenses along border ($13 million)

-U.S Marshals along border ($8 million)

-Interagency Crime and Drug Law enforcement along border ($21 million)

-Border processing of apprehended drug dealers and human traffickers ($7 million)

-FBI along border ($24 million)

-DEA along border ($34 million)

-ATF along border ($37 million)

-Federal Prison System for Immigrant Criminals ($20 million)

-Administrative Review and Appeals expediting along border ($2.1 million)

Border Funding is Fully Offset By Fees on Companies That Offshore High-Paying American Jobs

· The bill raises fees on H-1B visas (for temporary skilled workers) for companies who have more than 50 percent of their employees on H-1B visas (this does not affect U.S. tech companies).

· The bill also raises fees on L visas (given to multi-national transferees) for foreign companies. The L visa is often used by foreign companies to circumvent the requirements of the H-1B visa.

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