Lindsey Graham continues push for immigration reform - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Lindsey Graham continues push for immigration reform

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

More boots on the ground, more drones, and more money to continue building a fence along the US-Mexico border could be the way to move a comprehensive immigration reform bill through the Senate.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham took to the Senate floor on Thursday to throw his support behind the Corker-Hoeven amendment, which would spend over $20 billion more to add up to 40,000 border patrol agents and finish the 700-mile long fence at the border.

"If you want the border secured like I do, your ship has come in," said Graham.

Graham pointed to the Congressional Budget Office's report that was released on Wednesday which showed the immigration reform bill would reduce the deficit by nearly $200 billion over the next 10 years.

"This bill helps the economy. Don't take my word for it -- take the CBO's word for it," said Graham. "If you had some more money to spend in this bill, how would you want to spend it? Let me tell you how Sen. Graham would like to do it: he would like to hire 20,000 border patrol agents to let everybody in the country know I get it when you say we have to secure the border."

Graham called the amendment a "border surge."

"We have militarized our border almost," said Graham.

The state's senior senator is one of the "Gang of Eight", a group of four Democrats and four Republicans who have been working on the immigration bill for several months.

The bill looks to drastically increase security at the borders in exchange for putting the country's over 11 million undocumented immigrants on a path to become US citizens.

Momentum has continued to build for the bill after a potential make-or-break moment involving amendments to increase border security.

The Senate killed an amendment by Texas Sen. John Cornyn to create a trigger on border security before any undocumented immigrants could get on a pathway to citizenship.

That amendment was seen a measuring stick to see if any potential immigration legislation could pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Many House members have been cold to the legislation. South Carolina's Fourth District Congressman Trey Gowdy, chair of the House immigration subcommittee recently pushed a bill through that committee called the SAFE Act, which Gowdy says would allow state and local officials greater leeway to enforce federal immigration laws and would also make illegal immigration a federal crime.

Debate on the bill in the Senate could wrap up soon with a final vote on the bill in the Upper Chamber before July 4.

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