El Paso, TX (KDBC) — A bipartisan group of Senators in Washington, known as the "Gang of Eight," unveiled a plan to increase border security, and they're calling it a 'breakthrough' in the process of passing a bill for comprehensive immigration reform.
The amendment plans to hire 20,000 more Border Patrol agents, finish building a 700-mile southern border fence, and upgrade technology that monitors the border.
Congressman Beto O'Rourke is concerned. He says the changes would cost more than $50 billion during at time of "tight budgets," when current Border Patrol agents can't even be paid what their owed.
"All it does to focus on security is to delay comprehensive immigration reform," said O'Rourke.
"We all know we are one of the safest cities in the country so that's not a problem right now. We have other issues to deal with," said Pablo Lopez.
But unless these border security measures are met, and stronger worker verification and border entry-exit controls are put in place, and then verified by the Department of Homeland Security, the undocumented cannot get lawful permanent status.
"Net immigration from Mexico is at zero today. There are just as many people going back South as there are coming North," said O'Rourke.
"The focus should mainly be on Customs agents and not Border Patrol agents. I think it's really important for Senators to come down to El Paso and what El Paso and other border communities from San Diego to Brownsville are really about," said Karla Muñoz.
"I believe that as far as the protection and as far as the gates, no, it was an unnecessary expense," said Hector Hernandez.
"There really is no border security problem. Certainly not one that should cost $50 billion to fix," said O'Rourke.
If this bill for comprehensive immigration reform passes, some 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country would get temporary legal status, and not permanent status, until the proposed increased security measures are put in place.