Schumer: Legalizing Illegal immigrants won’t be stopped by border security needs

Nicholas Ballasy Senior Video Reporter
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New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said securing the nation’s borders should not be used as “a barrier” to giving illegal immigrants living in the U.S. a pathway to citizenship.

“We want the border to be secure. It’s more secure than it was several years ago, but it has a ways to go. And different sectors need different types of security. It’s a lot different having security in the Tucson sector than off the stretch in Texas, which is bounded by the Rio Grande,” Schumer said on Thursday.

“But we’re not using border security as an excuse or block to the path of citizenship. We just want to make sure — and this is very important both substantively and politically — that there is a secure border, and we’re going to work for that. But it’s not — and Dick [Durbin] and I and Bob [Menendez], as well as our three Republican friends, want to make sure the border’s secure but not to use it as a barrier to prevent the 11 million from eventually gaining a path to citizenship.”

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who joined a bipartisan group to announce an immigration reform blueprint earlier this week, argues that increased border security should come before a pathway to citizenship.

“The only way that I know to incentivize the enforcement part is to say that the green card stuff doesn’t even begin to happen until the enforcement happens first,” said Rubio.

“That trigger is critically important, otherwise it will never happen. That’s why we are where we are today. Because when they did this in 1986, they did not do the enforcement, and that led to 11 million people. We will be right back here again in ten years or less if we don’t do the enforcement.”

The Obama administration’s latest reports on the state of security on the U.S.-Mexico border paint a bleak picture.

The Department of Justice’s National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), which is now closed, reported in 2011 that Mexican drug cartels “control access” to the U.S.-Mexico border. The NDIC said the U.S.-Mexico border remains “the primary gateway for moving the bulk of illicit drugs into the United States.”

The Obama administration decided to reduce the number of troops on the U.S.-Mexico border in December of 2011.

The Government Accountability Office reported in February 2011 that only 129 of the nearly 2,000 mile U.S.-Mexico border have been classified as “controlled” by Customs and Border Protection.

“Border Patrol reported achieving varying levels of operational control for 873 of the nearly 2,000 southwest border miles at the end of fiscal year 2010,” said the GAO’s Preliminary Observations on Border Control Measures for the Southwest Border report released February 15, 2011.

“GAO’s preliminary analysis of the 873 border miles under operational control in 2010 showed that about 129 miles (15 percent) were classified as ‘controlled’ and the remaining 85 percent were classified as ‘managed.'”

A spokesperson for the GAO told TheDC that their border report from almost two years ago is the latest on record.

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