Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, offered a new amendment to the Schumer-Rubio immigration bill today, but Democrats quickly refused to even consider it.
According to Talking Points Memo‘s Brian Beutler, Democrats are refusing to even negotiate with Cornyn, whose new RESULTS amendment supposedly strengthens the border security sections of the legislation.
“We cannot accept the Cornyn amendment,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told TPM. “I’ve told John that already. The way it would change the triggers would jeopardize the path to citizenship. You should tell the people you’re lobbying that that is not going to happen. There may be other amendments dealing with the border that we can accept but not that one.”
So, what is so terrible about RESULTS that would make it a non-starter for Democrats? Both bills have sections specifically named “Triggers” under their path-to-citizenship sections. Here is how they differ:
Under S. 744, the secretary of homeland security “may not adjust the status of aliens who have been granted registered provisional status … until the Secretary, after consultation with the Comptroller General of the United States, submits to the President and Congress written certification that” — 1) a border security plan has been “substantially deployed”; 2) a border fence is “substantially completed”; 3) a mandatory employment verification system has been implemented; and 4) an electronic exit system has been implemented at all air and sea ports.
Under RESULTS, the DHS secretary “may not adjust the status of aliens who have been granted registered provisional status … until -”
A) the DHS Secretary and the Customs and Border Protection Commissioner “jointly submit to the President and Congress a written certification … under penalty of perjury, that – 1) DHS has achieved “full situational awareness” of the border; 2) DHS has achieved “operational control” of the border; 3) mandatory employment verification system has been implemented; and 4) a biometric entry and exit system has been implemented at all air and sea ports.
B) the DHS inspector general, in consultation with the comptroller general of the United States, certifies, but not under penalty of perjury, that all four security measures listed above have been achieved.
Also under RESULTS, the comptroller general must submit a report after the DHS secretary/CBP commissioner report, “as to whether or not” the border requirements have been met. But this report is not part of the path to citizenship trigger provision. The comptroller could issue a report saying none of the border security measures have been met and currently illegal immigrants would still get citizenship.
In other words, RESULTS does beef up S. 744′s existing trigger provisions … but barely. Notice that Cornyn dropped the most easily verifiable metric: the fence. The other specific security items have been changed slightly (the change to No. 4, from electronic to biometric entry/exit system is probably the biggest) and the DHS secretary now must certify their completion “under penalty of perjury.” Working the CBP commissioner and DHS IG into the mix is also new.
But just like Rubio’s vaunted Border Commission, Cornyn’s advertised role for the comptroller general turns out to be worthless. The comptroller’s report, like the border commission’s report, in no way affects the path to citizenship.
Nothing in RESULTS changes the fundamental amnesty-now-for-enforcement-later nature of Schumer-Rubio. Viewed as an opening offer, it is hard to see Democrats not compromising with Cornyn on something in the middle before final passage.