Landrieu Votes to Secure the Border, Strengthen U.S. Economy & Competitiveness
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today voted in favor of the balanced, bipartisan Senate Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which passed the Senate today with a vote of 68 to 32. Sen. Landrieu said that immigration reform is imperative for the economic strength of our country, and that this legislation will smartly secure the border, close the skills gap, strengthen our economy, bring accountability to those who have entered the U.S. illegally and have a positive effect on reducing the deficit.
"There is general consensus in Louisiana and America that our current immigration system is broken. I agree. The current system depresses wages for U.S. workers and unfortunately does not provide businesses- large or small-the skilled labor they need to fuel our economy here at home," Sen. Landrieu said.
"My vote today supports a strong, bipartisan and balanced immigration reform bill that puts unprecedented resources into more robust and smarter border security measures and builds on the impressive progress we have already made. Since 2006, Congress has doubled the number of border patrol agents to 21,370. This bill will add 19,200 more. And while we have established 651 miles of fencing in the last seven years, this bill will increase that by another 350 miles of fencing and implement smarter technology to enhance security at the border. All these investments, measures and tools will help us significantly reduce illegal crossings even more. And most importantly, the bill will bring accountability to those who have entered this country illegally by requiring them to pay taxes and fines, learn English and go to the back of the line before U.S. citizenship is an option."
Sen. Landrieu praised the legislation's important impact on our economy and protections for our current domestic workforce, which are also much stronger than the 2007 bill. The legislation will:
- Enhance security at our border - The bill requires the deployment of additional assets and technologies to achieve 100 percent surveillance of the southwest border using helicopters, drones, radars, motion sensors, cameras and thermal imaging systems.
- Close the skills gap - The legislation will expand the number of visas available for highly-skilled workers. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, each foreign-born graduate of a U.S. university who stays in the U.S. and works in science, technology, engineering or mathematics crates an average of 2.62 jobs for American workers.
- Reduce the deficit - According to the independent Congressional Budget Office, the legislation will reduce the deficit by $197 billion over the next 10 years and $700 billion over the following decade.
- Put American workers first - Require employers to give American workers the first opportunity for a job before it can be filled by a visa holder.
- Mandatory worksite enforcement - All job applicants will be required to show valid documents such as a U.S. passport, driver's license or green card to verify their status through the E-Verify system. The bill requires all employers to verify the status of those job applicants before they are hired.
"Action by the Senate today will help our country close the skills gap, strengthen our economy here at home and will have a very positive effect on reducing the deficit. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Louisiana Restaurant Association, the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are among the leaders of a broad collation of business, labor and faith groups supporting this," Sen. Landrieu said. "While I am disappointed that a more robust amendment process was not allowed on the Senate floor, I remain hopeful that future floor debates will be more open to bipartisan cooperation that will result in the opportunity for more amendments to make this and future legislation stronger."
After passage of the bill, local leaders in Louisiana voiced their support for Sen. Landrieu's vote:
"It is clear that we need to reform our country's immigration system to protect our borders and strengthen our businesses and our economy. This will help us fill the thousands of skilled jobs needed. We thank Sen. Landrieu for her leadership in addressing this important issue," George Swift President and CEO of the SWLA Economic Development Alliance said.
"As President & CEO of the Louisiana Restaurant Association, I understand the role of immigration first hand-at every level, immigrants comprise a large percentage of the total staff of our nation's restaurants. The United States needs standard comprehensive immigration reform to provide consistency and avoid creating an unnecessary burden for employers. The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 will provide certainty for America's workers and employers and create a reliable employment verification system. We thank Sen. Landrieu for understanding the importance of immigration reform for our industry and for her leadership on this important issue," Stan Harris, Louisiana Restaurant Association President & CEO said.
"Immigration reform is a central way that we can live Jesus' teaching to "welcome the stranger" (Matthew 25: 31-46). The Church has always stood with migrating people, seeking to meet their spiritual and physical needs while also working for social justice to affirm their God-given dignity and ensure family unity. I ask that you support immigration reform that will provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 11.1 million undocumented persons in the U.S. -- most of whom have lived here more than ten years, contribute substantially to the growth of our economy, and have strong community and family ties. Any reform proposal that would deny a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S. would impede their full integration into our democratic way of life and undermine the common good," Archbishop of New Orleans Gregory Aymond said.
"On behalf of SEIU Local 21 LA, I thank Senator Landrieu for her support of the Immigration Reform bill. This legislation will make necessary improvements to our current immigration system that will not only improve wages in the state, but will help shore up Social Security. This is the right path forward for our country, and for Louisiana's working families. We thank Sen. Landrieu for recognizing these important benefits and for voting for this critical legislation," Helene O'Brien, President of SEIU Local 21 LA said.
"The Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation supports Senate Bill 744, because it represents a solution to a long-standing immigration problem. We applaud its passage and we thank Sen. Landrieu for her help and support for this issue. For agriculture, Senate Bill 744 permits farmers to keep their experienced labor with the blue card program and provides availability of legal labor for agriculture. It also increases border security with border fences and twice the number of border enforcement agents," Ronnie Anderson, President of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation said.
"Our concern is a small but critical, commonsense provision in the bill for the forestry and agriculture community. Our businesses rely on migrant and seasonal workers who take jobs our domestic workforce doesn't want. What we really need is the ability to attract guest workers to come here for short periods of time and then return home to their respective countries. While this issue gets caught up in the immigration debate, the simple fact is these people are not getting citizenship - they just want to work. We thank Sen. Landrieu for recognizing this reasonable need and for voting for the Immigration Reform bill to help strengthen our businesses," C.A. "Buck" Vandersteen, Executive Director of the Louisiana Forestry Association said.
The Immigration Reform bill is supported by a broad range of groups in Louisiana and throughout the country, including:
American Conservative Union
American Federation of Teachers
American Hotel & Lodging Association
Americans for Tax Reform
Chamber of Commerce
Consumer Electronics Association
National Retail Federation
National Small Business Association
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Louisiana Primary Care Association, Inc.
ACLU of Louisiana
LA Farm Bureau Federation
Louisiana Restaurant Association
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 21 LA
Chamber of Southwest Louisiana
Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy
LA Forestry Association
National Guestworkers Alliance (New Orleans)
American Friends Service Committee
Harry Tompson Center (New Orleans)
The Public Law Center of Louisiana
SE LA Building and Construction Trades
Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children
New Orleans Interfaith Worker Justice
New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice (NOCRJ)
Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association (VAYLA) - New Orleans
Jesuit Social Research Institute/Loyola University New Orleans
Committee For a Better New Orleans
Restaurant Opportunities Center - New Orleans
Safe Street Strong Communities (New Orleans)
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Houma Thibodaux
Grow Dat Youth Farm (New Orleans)
Healthy Start New Orleans
Puentes New Orleans
Stand With Dignity (New Orleans)
Isaiah Institute (New Orleans)
Twomey Center for Peace through Justice (New Orleans)
Proyecto Hispano de Ayuda a la Comunidad (Lafayette)
Harlon's LA Fish and Seafood
Mary Queen of Vietnam (MQVN) Community Development Corporation, Inc. (New Orleans)
Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse for Greater New Orleans (Kenner)
International Union of Painters & Allied Trades - District Council No. 80 (Kenner)
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