April 17, 2013
The 844-page immigration reform bill the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” dropped in the dead of night contains a lucrative handout that would give taxpayer-funded free cell phones to some people who live or work near the U.S. border with Mexico.
Pages 43 and 44 of the bill detail what one conservative blogger, Javier Manjarres of Shark Tank, has already described as the “ObamaPhone” from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). That section reads:
SEC. 1107. ACCESS TO EMERGENCY PERSONNEL.
(a) SOUTHWEST BORDER REGION EMERGENCY COM- MUNICATIONS GRANTS.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary, in consultation with the governors of the States in the South- west Border region, shall establish a 2-year grant program, to be administered by the Secretary, to im- prove emergency communications in the Southwest Border region.
(2) ELIGIBILITY FOR GRANTS.—An individual is eligible to receive a grant under this subsection if the individual demonstrates that he or she—
(A) regularly resides or works in the Southwest Border region;
(B) is at greater risk of border violence due to the lack of cellular service at his or her residence or business and his or her proximity to the Southern border. (3) USE OF GRANTS.—Grants awarded under
this subsection may be used to purchase satellite telephone communications systems and service that—
(A) can provide access to 9–1–1 service;
(B) are equipped with global positioning systems.
(4) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.— There is authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary to carry out the grant program established under this subsection.
Manjarres first found the immigration bill’s free cell phone goodies and dubbed the handout the “MarcoPhone.”