July 19, 2006

Chafee and Laffey on Immigration II, Part 3

Carroll Andrew Morse

There are a numbers of issues regarding border security only peripherally discussed in Katherine Gregg’s Chafee v. Laffey immigration article that need to be noted in any truly “comprehensive” discussion of immigration policy.

  1. Senator Chafee voted against an amendment to the Senate immigration bill that would have required the Secretary of Homeland security to certify that the border security provisions authorized by the bill were “fully completed and are fully operational” before any guest worker or amnesty program could be implemented. The Senator did vote for a less-specific alternative requiring the President to find that guest worker and amnesty programs “strengthen the national security of the United States” before implementing them.
  2. Senator Chafee voted in favor of an amendment authorizing 370 miles of fencing along America’s border with Mexico. (Senator Jack Reed was one of just 16 Senators who voted against the amendment).
  3. However, just last week, Senator Chafee voted against appropriating $1,800,000,000 in Homeland Security funding to build the fence. According to the Washington Times, some Senators opposed funding the fencing because they believed this particular amendment cut too deeply into the Homeland Security budget…
    Sen. Judd Gregg, the New Hampshire Republican who historically has fought to increase border security and enforcement of federal immigration laws, was among those who opposed Mr. Session's amendment….

    Mr. Session's amendment would have required across-the-board cuts to the rest of the Homeland Security appropriations bill, Mr. Gregg said, which would mean cutting 750 new border-patrol agents and 1,200 new detention beds for illegal aliens that he included in the bill.

    "We've attempted very hard to increase Border Patrol agents in this bill, increase detention beds," he said. "And, yes, we haven't funded the wall specifically as a result of our efforts to do these increases."

    Whatever the reason, at the moment, border fencing has not yet been funded. Senator Chafee also voted against appropriating $86,000,000 “to hire 800 additional full time active duty investigators to investigate immigration laws violations.”
  4. Mayor Laffey has expressed a border-security and enforcement-first position on immigration, saying that “he would support a guest-worker program after the country secured its borders and enforced its laws”. Katherine Gregg's Projo article describes the Chafee campaign’s criticism of the Mayor’s position…
    Chafee's own mailer says Laffey's get-tough rhetoric now is at odds with his February 2005 suggestion on talk radio that "we should recruit illegal labor at the border," and his well-publicized April 2005 announcement that Cranston would accept identification cards issued by the embassies of Guatemala and Mexico as legal identification. Chafee called them: "illegal immigration cards."
    In response, the Laffey campaign points out that foreign nationals who legally enter the country under rules governing guest-workers should not be grouped together with illegal immigrants…
    "Nowhere in the article does Mayor Laffey say he supports recruiting illegal immigrants," she said. "Rather, Mayor Laffey said he would support a guest-worker program after the country secured its borders and enforced its laws . . . much like the legal guest-worker programs we have today. "
    Further discussion on the consular ID issue is available here.

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Chafee's voting for authorizing the building of a fence along the border, but against the $1.8 B funding for actually building the fence, sounds to me a little like Kerry's "I voted for it before I voted against it..."

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Posted by: Gary at August 23, 2006 4:33 AM