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Immigration reform back in the spotlight

PHOENIX — The Senate Judiciary Committee goes back to work Monday on the ‘Gang of Eights’ comprehensive immigration reform plan.

“We have a few more days before we finish the bill in committee and then send it on to the Senate floor. We’ve adopted several elements that will strengthen border security along with interior enforcement. This has been an open process and obviously a big process.”

Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake said this attempt at reform has a far different tone than 2007 when the Senate dealt a fatal blow to President George W. Bush’s overhaul of immigration policy.

“That has been remarkable,” Flake said. “A lot of amendments have been offered. Virtually all of them to improve the bill and not kill it. Most people recognize we have to deal with this problem.”

Flake said this legislation will help secure the Tucson Sector. A 260 mile section of the border from the New Mexico state line to the Yuma County line. The busiest area in the country in both immigrant apprehensions and marijuana seizures. While the 125 mile stretch known as the Yuma sector in Southern California and Southwestern Arizona is a model of securing the border.

“We have operational control in the Yuma Sector,” Flake said. “If somebody sneaks across we have a reasonable expectation of catching them. We need that on more of the border.”

Flake said the legislation addresses the biggest concern of Arizonans — border security.

“There will be additional fencing, surveillance with drones, more manpower.”

Flake said immigration reform could be on the full Senate floor within a matter of days.