Cardin: Cost-benefits of border surge amendment are 'minimal'

On Monday, the Senate voted 67-27 to end debate on a border security amendment to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. That vote gave the bill a large boost, with support from 15 Republicans.

The amendment included provisions to increase border security authored by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.).

In the underlying bill, the E-Verify system and an entry-exit system at air and sea ports must be in place before anyone is given a provisional legal status. The amendment from Hoeven and Corker would also make require construction of 700 miles of southern border fencing, the purchase of more than $3 billion in new technology for border security, and the hiring of 20,000 more border patrol agents mandatory.

Those increased border security measures come with a price tag of $46 billion over 10 years, but supporters point out that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) still estimates a net gain for taxpayers.

Cardin said the amendment results in the Senate “micromanaging border security.” He also said he was “disappointed” that the same GOP senators who complain about the growing deficit, insisted on spending billions more in the bill.

“The same senators who complain day after day who complain about government spending ... are the ones who proposed spending more on border security than anyone thought was necessary, so I am disappointed,” Cardin said.

Cardin said despite his disappointments in the legislation, he would continue to support its final passage because of the provisions for Dreamers, young people brought to the country illegally by their parents.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture on the final bill Monday so that the Senate could complete work on the legislation before the July Fourth recess.