The Senate Judiciary Committee has begun considering amendments to the Gang of Eight immigration bill. And on a key early amendment, Republicans Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake — both Gang members — joined unanimous Democrats to defeat a Republican amendment that would have required proof of increased border security before legalizing millions of currently-illegal immigrants.
The amendment was offered by Sen. Charles Grassley, ranking Republican on the committee. It was brief — just three pages — and its key portion was this:
Not earlier than the date upon which the Secretary [of Homeland Security] has submitted to Congress a certification that the Secretary has maintained effective control of the Southern border for a period of not less than six months, the Secretary may commence processing applications for registered provisional immigrant status.
As currently written, the Gang would allow for the legalization of currently-illegal immigrants to begin once the Secretary has come up with a plan and funding to increase border security — not when that increased security is actually in place. Grassley’s amendment would have upended that legalization-first structure and required proof of enhanced security before legalization.
It failed by a 12 to 6 vote. All ten Democrats on the committee voted against it, along with Graham and Flake. Voting for the amendment were Sens. Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Jeff Sessions, John Cornyn, Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz.
The vote may indicate a pattern that will emerge in the amendment process. Republicans will try to enhance the security portions of the bill, only to be defeated by an alliance of Democrats and the Gang of Eight Republicans.