Senate Democrats Expected to Try to Pass Border-Only Bill

Posted August 5, 2010 at 11:30am

Updated: 1:36 p.m.

Senate Democrats are expected to try to pass a narrow border-only immigration bill Thursday afternoon before breaking for the August Recess.

The legislation, authored by Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.), would authorize $600 million for border security measures.

“We’re going to ask for unanimous consent to pass this before we leave,” Schumer said Thursday, adding that the vote will “expose whether people want to secure the borders or just want an issue” for this fall’s elections.

Schumer has for more than a year pursued a comprehensive immigration reform package, but the effort has stalled in the face of near-unanimous GOP opposition.

But with the public concerned about illegal immigration — and Arizona’s controversial immigration law fanning the flames of public discontent — Schumer is pursuing a narrower border bill.

According to Democrats, Schumer’s bill calls for deploying 1,500 new border patrol agents as well as increasing funding for unmanned aerial patrols along the border. The cost would be offset by raising the fees on foreign corporations that “abuse” visa programs to bring workers to the U.S. from India.

Republicans have rebuffed previous attempts by Democrats to pass similar border-only measures this year, arguing that significantly more funding is needed. But Schumer dismissed those arguments Thursday, saying that just because “you’re for more doesn’t mean you should be against this.”