Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R.-Tenn.), perhaps sensing an opening to appeal to the conservative base as a presidential candidate in 2008, has promised to make immigration reform the Senate’s top priority next year.
Frist suggested in an interview with the Washington Times last month that any immigration reform bill would include a guest-worker plan as requested by President Bush.
It’s noteworthy, as I wrote earlier today, that Republicans have realized that in order to get anything done on immigration reform, they cannot ignore the importance of enforcement. Frist, with an eye on 2008, is now in that camp as well.
Here’s Frist’s statement:
We can no longer compromise America’s border security, allowing potentially dangerous individuals and materials to slip freely across the border and into our country. This year’s Homeland Security appropriations bill included unprecedented funding for programs that help keep our borders protected and bolster our resources in defending against national security threats. Specifically the legislation provided for an additional 1,000 border patrol agents and nearly $10 billion just for border security efforts.
Having personally witnessed the challenges of maintaining safe and secure borders, I know that we must act swiftly to confront the challenges along America’s porous borders. That’s why the Senate will make strengthening our nation’s frontline defenses a top priority in the second session of the 109th Congress, and I plan on bringing up border security reform legislation as a primary legislative item in February.
We must boldly address the challenges of border security first, which is why I will start the debate in the Senate with a measure that aggressively strengthens and improves enforcement at the border.