On Thursday, House Representatives debated the Secure the Border Act of 2023 as Title 42 expired at the southern border, which lays out sweeping new requirements and restrictions for securing the southern border.
The bill passed 219-213. Two Republicans, Reps. Thomas Massie and John Duarte voted along side all Democrat members against the bill.
The bill was introduced to the House of Representatives on May 2 in anticipation of the flood of illegal immigrants expected in the wake of Title 42, which allowed expulsions due to the pandemic emergency.
The bill calls for the "immediate resumption of border wall construction" no later than seven days after the bill is enacted, using previously set aside funds and materials for its construction.
No later than 180 days after the bill is enacted, a report shall be submitted to congressional committees that outlines a strategic 5-year technology investment plan for border security, including potential upgrades in security technology, communications equipment, screening equipment, incorporating in input from the private sector.
In an effort to retain Border Patrol personnel, the bill will authorize up to $100,000,000 in appropriated funds for the Commissioner of the US Customs and Border Protection to give to front-line agents who hold a position equal to or below level GS-12, has been with Border Patrol for five years or longer, and commits two additional years of service with Border Patrol upon acceptance of the bonus.
The bill also requires that the Commissioner hire and train enough Border Patrol agents to maintain an active duty presence of no less than 22,000 full-time agents.
The bill also includes a provision prohibiting the requirement to take a Covid-19 vaccine or adverse actions taken against a Department of Homeland Security employee.
The Secretary of Homeland Security would be required to send a report no later than 60 days after the bill is enacted on whether Mexican drug cartels meet the criteria for being designated as a foreign terrorist organization.
The bill amends the Immigration and Nationality Act, stating that those found not to be eligible for parole shall be deported from the country.
The bill also increases penalties for illegal entry or presence in the country from $50-$250 up to $500-$1000.
Illegal immigrants who overstay a visa are subject to imprisonment of no more than six months and/or a fine for the first offense, and a fine and/or no more than two years of imprisonment for subsequent offenses.
The bill also mandates the use of e-Verify, a system used to check if a person is authorized to work in the United States.
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