Senate Rejects 3 Harmful Enforcement-Related Amendments
Today was a victory for human rights in the United States Senate. The Senate rejected three harmful amendments during a debate on a supplemental appropriations package, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, HR 4899. The measures were introduced by Sen. McCain, Kyl and Cornyn and provided for wasteful spending on increases in immigration detention, enforcement and border militarization.
This just a day after President Obama agreed to deploy 1,200 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border and asked for another $500 million on border spending. A move that will only serve to make America less safe by diverting limited National Guard forces away from protecting the country in the case of a true national emergency.
McCain’s amendment sought to further militarize the border by deploying an additional 6,000 members of the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border. A measure that would have further jeopardized the rights and well-being of border residents because it called for stationing soldiers trained for combat near family neighborhoods.
Sen. Cornyn offered an amendment to provide an astonishing $ 1,985,540,000 in additional funding for enforcement operations, including 3,300 additional detention beds. An increase in funding on top of $1.7 billion the government spends to detain more than 380,000 immigrants each year, despite the existence of cheaper and more humane alternatives that have been proven effective in meeting the government’s objectives.
Senator Kyl offered an amendment to expand Operation Streamline, a Bush Administration program implemented in 2005 which criminalizes migration by ordering federal criminal charges for every person who crosses the border without proper authorization. Operation Streamline has been criticized by federal judges and prosecutors because it drains limited federal resources from criminal prosecutions and clogs U.S. courts with minor immigration violation cases.
In response to these draconian proposals, community members from across the nation lodged more than 30,000 phone calls and faxes to Senators, urging them to oppose these ineffective and wasteful measures. Today their pleas for a responsible approach to managing the immigration system were heard.
For a list of how Senators voted today, click here for PDF.
To learn more about how you can join Detention Watch Network’s campaign to demand the U.S. government reform the immigration system to ensure the enforcement of fair and proportional immigration laws while upholding human rights and individual dignity, visit www.dignitynotdetention.org.