Leahy removes provision of Senate immigration bill

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(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy has succeeded in removing a controversial provision of a Senate immigration bill.

That provision laid out a proposal to study building a wall or barrier across the length of the U.S. – Canadian border. Leahy calls it a “cockamamie” idea.

But as VPR’s Lynne McCrea reports, the issue could come up again as the Senate debates the bill.

(McCrea) The proposal is to study building a wall, fence or barrier system across the more than 3,000-mile-long border between Canada and the U.S. The Senate provision was similar to one that the House already passed in its version of immigration reform legislation.

Construction of fences began on the Southern Border in 1990, when the Border Patrol started building a barrier in the San Diego area. But Senator Leahy argues that the Northern border is different from the Southern Border.

(Leahy) “We don’t have hundreds of thousands of Canadians trying to come down to the United States thinking they’re going to have better jobs or health care plans. They have one of the highest standards of living in the world!”

(McCrea) Leahy says the people who want to build the costly barrier don’t understand the commercial importance of the Northern Border and how states and communities would be affected.

(Leahy) “To go and do something and tell Canada We’re so terrified of you, we’re going to put up this Berlin Wall along the length of our Border’ it’s a cockamamie idea and it’s better to stop it now before we start spending taxpayer dollars on it.”

(McCrea) As the leading Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Leahy pushed to remove the Northern Border Study’ provision. But he says it could come up again when the bill reaches the full Senate.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Lynne McCrea.

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