National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

Blog & Updates

Senate votes to expand E-Verify, throw more money at border fence

July 08, 2009 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

E-Verify: Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) offered an amendment that would make the E-Verify electronic worker verification program permanent. (Currently, E-Verify is set to expire in three years).  It would also require its use by employers that receive federal contracts.  Senator Schumer (D-NY) offered a motion to table the Sessions amendment.  The motion to table failed by a vote of 44 to 53, and the Sessions amendment was adopted.


See how your Senator voted:


The Fence to Nowhere: Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) offered an amendment that would require the previously-authorized 700-mile border Fence to Nowhere be completed by the end of next year.  This amendment specifies that vehicle barriers are not sufficient; that the Fence to Nowhere must “effectively restrain pedestrian traffic” (or at least make pedestrians walk around the fence). The amendment was adopted by a vote of 54 to 44.


See how your Senator voted:


What do Today’s Votes Mean for Comprehensive Reform?


While many Senators who voted for these amendments have long opposed immigration reform, not all of them will oppose a comprehensive package.  For restrictionists Senators, the writing is on the wall that comprehensive immigration reform will be taken up later this year by Congress, and they are trying to get what they can before they become less relevant.  Many Senators who will in the end support comprehensive immigration reform want to show they are going to be tough on enforcement, and will do so at every opportunity.  It is disappointing that Senators are still making these symbolic actions which amount to more money being thrown at efforts to enforce laws that are broken.  It’s time we start seeing them actually tackling the problem in a way that might fix it.


No comparable provisions are included in the House bill, which has already been passed.  There will be a chance to remove these provisions when the House and Senate negotiate a compromise in Conference Committee (though it is not a given that these provisions will be stricken).


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