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With Border Security, I’m Focused on Results

When I was elected to represent you, I focused on getting results. South Dakotans, like many Americans, are tired of the same-old Washington politics that is more focused on political grandstanding than making lives better for the citizens we represent. I’m proud of the successes we’ve had lately – enacting historic tax reform, rebalancing the court system, undoing over 1600 burdensome regulations and repealing some of Obamacare’s most egregious mandates, just to name a few. But we still have work to do.

Most recently, we’ve been working on bipartisan legislation to enhance border security and provide a permanent solution to DACA recipients, paving the way for broader reforms on a fairer immigration system that is merit-based. Recognizing that strong bipartisan support is needed to pass anything out of the Senate, I have spent the past month meeting with a broad, bipartisan group of senators to find a solution to adequately address these vital issues.  At times, upward of 30 members of the Senate– from all sides of the political spectrum – participated in these lively, spirited conversations. At the end of these discussions, after incorporating many ideas from a number of our colleagues, we introduced a bill with 16 original cosponsors, eight from each side of the aisle.

What became the Rounds-King bill included $25 billion in new funding for border security – a historic investment in our nation’s borders that would greatly strengthen our ability to keep bad actors out of the country and keep Americans safe. Additionally, we permanently and fairly addressed DACA recipients, so these young people – brought here through no fault of their own – can stop living in fear of being deported. These two issues have long enjoyed broad, bipartisan support from both sides of the aisle, the White House and the American people we represent.

We also for the first time began to undo what is known in D.C. as “chain migration,” in which citizens and legal residents can sponsor green cards for their families. Our bill breaks the chain by preventing DACA children from sponsoring their parents for legal status in the U.S. It also prohibits lawful permanent residents from sponsoring unmarried children over 21 years of age for family-sponsored immigrant visas. Another huge break in the chain.

Our proposal is a significant improvement from the status quo and likely the only framework capable of passing the Senate so that we can actually move the ball forward on comprehensive border security and immigration reform. Ultimately, our bill was not able to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. This is disappointing because opening debate on our bill would have allowed us to continue the dialogue as we seek to keep our borders safe and reform our immigration system to one that is merit-based.

But, that does not mean we give up in our efforts. The two issues of DACA and the president’s campaign promise to fund a border wall system still linger. When Congress returns to session toward the end of the month, I will continue to work with my colleagues to get results on pragmatic reforms to our border security and immigration systems, using our bill as the base, or another one if it can accomplish the same thing. Getting results is what you sent me here to do, and that’s what I intend to do.