July 8, 2009 - WASHINGTON, D.C - Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) made the following statement after the Senate passed his amendment requiring the completion of 700 miles of double-layer physical fencing along the southern U.S. border by December 31, 2010. The amendment was offered to the FY2010 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill and the vote was passed by a 54 - 44 vote.
“The American people were promised a secure border fence three years ago and it’s time to make it happen,” said Senator DeMint. “Our southern border has become a battleground for illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and human trafficking, and it’s vulnerable to terrorists. Unfortunately, our government has dragged its feet for years and tried to use untested and unsecure ‘virtual’ fencing instead of actual, physical fencing. Our first priority must be national security, and we can only achieve that goal with secure borders. I’m pleased with the strong bipartisan vote in favor of a finishing a real border fence next year. I will work to ensure no one cuts or weakens this important provision in conference.”
The Fiscal Year 2008 Omnibus spending bill required 700 miles of reinforced double-layer fencing to built along the southern border and set a deadline for 370 miles of the fence to be completed by December 31, 2008. To this date, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has only constructed 34.3 miles of double-layer fencing, leaving more than 660 miles of required double-layer fencing remaining to be built.
The DeMint amendment states that ineffective fencing to restrain pedestrians (i.e. vehicle barriers and virtual fencing) does not meet the 700 miles required by law. The amendment sets a deadline of December 31, 2010 for completion of the required 700 miles of reinforced double-layer fencing and the installation of related equipment. The amendment also requires the secretary of DHS to submit a report to Congress by September 30, 2009 on the progress made and her plans for completing the fence by December 31, 2010.