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Candidate Jeb Bush unveils six-point plan on border security

Jeb Bush

By Steve Bittenbender

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush unveiled on Monday a proposal to tackle immigration issues, saying any plan that addresses amnesty for illegal aliens must also come with a “robust strategy to improve border security.”

The former Florida governor, who is seeking to be the third member of his family to win election to the nation’s highest office in 27 years, outlined his strategy in a post on his campaign Web site, ahead of the first GOP primary debate scheduled for Thursday. Any proposal, he said, would require ending partisan rancor in Congress.

“We must transform immigration from a broken system into one that benefits every American,” he said.

Like fellow candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham, Bush calls for a system that enables illegal immigrants currently living here to learn English and pay appropriate taxes and fines, among other things, in order to achieve legal status.But providing that without a plan to address the border concerns is a nonstarter for him, he said. 

Bush’s plan is broken down into two sections. One deals with physical aspects of securing and patrolling the border. The other, called “interior enforcement,” focuses on reforming immigration issues.

On immigration, Bush called for mandating electronic verification to determine if a job applicant is eligible for employment. Adding, that a strong E-Verify system would reduce illegal immigration by reducing their opportunities for jobs. Currently, how employers can use E-Verify varies from state to state, with only Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Utah requiring it for most or all new hires.

Bush also focused on the government to fix problems associated with visas, namely people who enter legally but let their visa lapse and become illegal immigrants. Other GOP hopefuls were quick to join in on the subject at a candidate forum Monday in New Hampshire. Considered a prelude to Thursday’s debate, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry joined Bush in calling for more stringent enforcement of deporting those whose visas have expired.

Immigration activists, though, say that illegal immigration is tapering off. A report from the Pew Research Center shows that 11.3 million people living in the United States last year were undocumented aliens. That’s down nearly a million from a decade ago.

Frank Sharry, executive director of the immigration rights group America’s Voice, said in a tweet the US-Mexican border “is more secure than ever.”

In his plan, Bush called on using a biometric system to help determine whether or not someone has left the country. He isn’t the only one calling for that type of technology to be used for Homeland Security purposes. Last week, the new administrator for the Transportation Security Administration said he would like to see a biometric solution replace existing boarding passes for airlines.

Lastly, Bush said he would withhold federal funding for “sanctuary cities,” localities that he said undermine federal immigration laws and become safe havens for illegals who cross again after being deported.

In fixing the border, Bush said he wants to reduce regulations that make it more difficult for federal agents to access government-owned land adjacent to the Mexican border. He also said agencies need to shift their focus to a “forward-leaning” strategy by stationing their agents in positions for multiple-day shifts, similar to the schedules run by fire departments.

Technology also must play a part in securing the border and should be used in concert with fencing and other barriers. Drones and radar can help border agents identify and track illegal immigrant activity as well as drug smuggling, human trafficking and other illegal behaviors.

“In order to apprehend a person, you first have to know when and where a crossing occurs,” Bush said. “That is one of the biggest problems right now—we do not have enough surveillance on the border and we are being beaten without knowing it.”


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