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Chambliss, Isakson want secure borders

Georgia's senators aren't quite satisfied with a compromise struck last week over U.S. immigration policies.

Both U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson said they were pleased with the bipartisan approach, but wanted to see more work to secure American borders in the final draft.

"The bipartisan immigration deal announced (last week) is a step in the right direction toward reaching a final, comprehensive immigration bill. However, certain criteria must be met in order for this legislation to receive my final support," Chambliss said. "My top priority in this debate is border security, because if we do not secure the border then we will fail to address a serious national security issue and we will fail to prevent future illegal immigration. The bill must not include a new pathway to citizenship for people who have come here illegally; rather, those who have come here illegally must go home and get in the back of the line if they want to apply for a green card."

Chambliss also wanted to make business owners responsible for verifying the immigration status of workers.

"Any temporary worker program must be just that - temporary - and American workers and American wages must not be harmed by a temporary worker program," he said. "Employers must be provided with a fool-proof verification system to ensure that prospective employees are legal, and once a system is created, employers who refuse to verify the status of their employees or who knowingly hire illegal workers should be severely punished.

Chambliss and Isakson were part of a team to negotiate the agreement along with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez.

"The pressure is now on us. We have got to fix our broken borders," Isakson said. "If Congress doesn't appropriate the funds and the Secretary of Homeland Security doesn't install the barriers, hire the agents, get the unmanned aerial vehicles in the sky or create a verifiable biometric identification card, there is no bill. This is a two-step process, and the first step is to stop the problem. I am optimistic we will reach an agreement that can be the foundation for meaningful reform, security of our borders and respect for our immigration process."

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.