WASHINGTON— White House-backed immigration legislation gained momentum in the Senate on Thursday as lawmakers closed in on a bipartisan compromise to spend tens of billions of dollars stiffening the bill’s border security requirements without delaying legalization for millions living in the country unlawfully.
“Once the Senate adopts our amendment, I will be proud to vote for a bill that secures our border and respects our heritage as an immigrant nation,” Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., said in a statement. Additional GOP support was expected as a result of measures that backers dubbed a “border surge.”
Under the emerging compromise, the government would grant legal status to immigrants living in the United States illegally at the same time the additional security was being put into place. Green cards, which signify permanent residency status, would be withheld until the security steps were complete.
Officials said the plan envisions doubling the size of the Border Patrol with 20,000 new agents, completing 700 miles of new fencing along the border with Mexico and purchasing new surveillance drones to track would-be illegal border crossers. The cost of the additional agents alone was put at $30 billion over a decade.
Read More at OfficialWire . By David Espo.