By Debbie Gregory.
The Senate has devised a plan to recruit veterans, reservists and National Guard members to guard the nation’s borders.
The amendment to the immigration reform bill requires the Department of Homeland Security to work with the Department of Defense to recruit veterans and citizen soldiers to fill jobs in customs, border protection and immigration posts. The bill calls for $30 million to be spent adding up to 20,000 more agents on the Mexican border. The additional employees would bring the number of boots on the ground to about 40,000.
Officials are willing to sweeten the deal for reservists and veterans who sign on by offering student loan repayments, up to $80,000 for a three-year commitment, and signing bonuses. Additional money to cover relocation costs and retention bonuses could be offered as well.
The Senate is currently in its second week of debating the bill. Senators Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Mike Johanns, R-Neb., are cosponsors of the amendment to hire military members. Senator Pryor said America’s trained veterans are the best fit for the job. “We need the best and the brightest to stand guard at our border, and I can think of no individuals better trained for this role than our military members and veterans. They’ve shown time and time again that they’re dedicated to serving our nation.”
Senator Johanns added that the military teaches a lot of skills, many of which could be used securing our borders. “This is a win-win amendment that encourages our current and former military service members to pursue jobs in border security, adding to the ranks of highly trained professionals dedicated to protecting our nation’s border.”
The bill also provides a pathway to citizenship for nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. Arizona politicians, however, are more concerned with the sealing of the border on which their state sits.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer told reporters. “I’m glad they’ve finally decided to talk about the border surge that we’ve called out for since 2010, asking them to take control of our border, operational control. And I think this is a great step forward in regards to that.”