Dem Immigration Plan Prioritizes Border Security

An emerging immigration proposal by three Democratic senators calls for more federal enforcement agents and other border security-tightening benchmarks before illegal immigrants could become legal U.S. residents.

Those goals "must be met before action can be taken to adjust the status of people already in the United States illegally," according to a copy of the draft legislation, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, that Sens. Harry Reid of Nevada, Charles Schumer of New York and Robert Menendez are developing.

The benchmarks include additional Border Patrol officers and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents to combat smuggling; more ICE inspectors at work sites; an increased number of ICE officers assigned to detect fraudulent documents, and better ways to determine fakes; more personnel to check for contraband at ports of entry; additional resources to prosecute drug and human smugglers and illegal border crossers, and for deportations.

An outline of the proposal does not specify the additional agents or resources required to meet the benchmarks.

Arizona's new strict immigration law has led to renewed demands for Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration bill. Reid, the Senate's majority leader, recently said he is committed to taking up immigration this election year, but also backed away from a possibility of addressing the divisive issue before climate change.

Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley, declined to comment Wednesday, as did a Schumer spokesman, Brian Fallon.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has worked with Schumer on the issue, has balked at moving ahead this year. At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Graham, R-S.C., said drug violence along the border with Mexico is evidence that the border is not secure and has hurt the bill's prospects.

Democrats are failed so far in getting a second Republican to join Graham in writing immigration legislation.

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