The recently passed Senate immigration bill fixes both Minnesota’s and the country’s “broken immigration system” by helping business and agriculture and protecting workers, said U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. It also cuts $875 billion from the nation’s deficit over the next 20 years.
“This is an astonishingly good bill, a great compromise,” Franken said at a St. Paul news conference Monday.
Late additions to the Senate bill place unprecedented manpower, including a doubling of border guards and customs agents, and technical resources like increased drones on the border to stem the flow of illegal immigration, bolstering its support among Republican Senate members.
“Right now, if you look at the flow at the border, we have some months where there’s a net going to Mexico,” Franken said. “If there is no way to get a job when you come over, there’s no reason to come over.”
Franken was joined by Marianne Peterson, a dairy farmer from Pine City and a district director with the Minnesota Milk Producers Association; Ramon Leon, president and CEO of the Latino Economic Development Center; and John Keller, director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.
“Dairy farmers struggle every day to find adequate employees in which to work on our dairy farms,” Peterson said. “This bill will create opportunities for the dairy industry.”
While prospects in the House remain tenuous, Franken, who was instrumental in several key amendments in the Senate measure, said the Senate’s 68 votes send a strong message of bipartisan support. Franken would not predict what may happen in the House, where concerns about border security and criticism of “amnesty” for undocumented workers remain high.
“They have to show that they are serious,” he said. “This is a strong bipartisan bill and it’s up to the House to do a bill in good faith that has, as the end game, the reform of the immigration system.”