AP: Border security amendment offered in Senate

Jun. 21, 2013 @ 03:12 PM

An agreement to vastly increase fencing, patrols and high-tech monitoring along the U.S.-Mexico border was formally unveiled in the Senate Friday, providing powerful momentum to a far-reaching immigration bill backed by the White House.

With the border security amendment finalized, the immigration legislation immediately picked up an additional likely Republican supporter: Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who signed on as a co-sponsor of the amendment.

"This amendment will put to rest any remaining credible concerns about the border, about border security," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on the Senate floor as he filed the measure and announced procedural steps to bring it to a vote early next week. "The opposition of a small group is not going to stop this bill from moving forward," Reid said.

The deal doubling Border Patrol agents and adding hundreds of miles of fencing along the Southwest border had already won support from four other undecided Republican senators who are now likely to back the immigration bill when it comes to a final vote next week. The legislation opening the door to citizenship for millions now appears within reach of securing the broad bipartisan majority that its authors say is needed to ensure serious consideration by the GOP-controlled House.

However, the outcome there remains far from certain because many conservatives are opposed to offering citizenship to people who came to this country illegally.

"We really have tried to secure the border in a way that we hope can get bipartisan support and that Americans want," Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., an author of the amendment, told The Associated Press in a phone interview Friday. "We're hopeful to have a good bipartisan majority."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on Fox News Channel Friday that "if there's anyone who still will argue that the border is not secure after this, then border security is not their reason for opposing a path to citizenship for the people who are in this country illegally."

"Is it more than I would have recommended? Honestly, yes," McCain said. "But we've got to give people confidence."