Twenty-eight amendments to the Schumer-Rubio immigration bill were voted on by the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, and all 12 sponsored by Democrats passed. Meanwhile, conservative Republicans offered five substantive amendments that would have strengthened the border security measures in the bill, and every time Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the two Republican members of the Gang of Eight on the Judiciary Committee, voted with all 10 Democrats to to defeat them.
“No one can dispute that this bill is legalization first, enforcement later,” Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said, while introducing the first major border security amendment to be defeated Thursday. “The American people are compassionate. Many can come to terms with a legalization program. But many would say that a legalization program should be tied to border security or enforcement.” Grassley’s amendment would have required the Department of Homeland Security to actually secure the border for six months, not just submit a plan, before any illegal immigrant could obtain legalization. Graham and Flake joined the committee Democrats to defeat that amendment.
Next, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, offered an amendment that would have required a vote in Congress to certify that the border was secure before illegal immigrant legalization could continue. Graham and Flake joined the committee Democrats to defeat that amendment.
Then Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, offered an amendment that would have tripled the number of border agents on the Mexico border, quadrupled non-personnel resources along the Mexico border, and required completion of 700 miles of fence, as is already required by the Secure Fence Act of 2006. Can you guess which two GOPers joined the 10 Democrats to defeat the Cruz amendment?
Following Cruz, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., offered an amendment to require completion of the 700 miles of fence along the Mexico border specified by the Secure Fence Act of 2006. Graham, Flake and the committee Democrats swatted it away.
Finally, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, offered an amendment that would have strengthened the definition of “operational control” of the border needed to secure the border. Graham and Flake … you know the rest.
Sensing a pattern in the voting, Cruz told his colleagues, “The committee has voted down every serious border security amendment presented … This committee has consistently rejected any attempt to put real teeth in it, and if it does not have that, in my opinion, this bill will not pass.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is not on the Judiciary Committee, disagreed with Cruz’s assessment. He put out a statement at the end of the day reading, “The immigration legislation was improved in some areas today. The bill will now do more to secure our borders and enforce our laws than when the day began.”
Before Thursday’s votes began, there was already a huge divide between the Republican members of the Gang of Eight and conservative senators about whether the Schumer-Rubio bill would do anything to actually improve border security. After yesterday, that divide only grew wider.
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