Republican Sens. John Hoeven and Bob Corker are preparing to release a new amendment to strengthen the border security and interior enforcement provisions in the Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration reform bill. There are still some doubts about what will be in the amendment, but it appears it will not include a requirement that 90 percent of the people who attempt to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally must be apprehended or turned back.
In an interview Monday night, Hoeven said, “For all of the people that they identify coming across the border, you’ve got to capture or turn back 90 percent of those folks … and only then can you go from Registered Provisional Immigrant to green card status.”
“You have to have not only the plan in place but the metric has to be met, prior to going to green card status,” Hoeven added.
Now, it appears that has changed. “The 90 percent is gone,” says a Senate aide familiar with the amendment. “In its stead is the doubling of the Border Patrol.” The amendment will propose adding about 20,000 new Border Patrol agents to the existing force of about 20,000, which amendment supporters say will result in an enormous improvement in border security.
The decision to abandon the requirement that a certain level of border security must be achieved, rather than a certain amount of resources devoted to the problem, appears to be yet another victory for the Gang of Eight immigration reform bill’s authors. Democrats on the Gang have opposed so-called “hard triggers” from the very beginning, and it appears they have defeated another attempt to put one in the bill. Whether the new increase in Border Patrol agents — another move opposed by Democrats on the Gang — will compensate for the removal of the trigger will be a key theme of the coming debate.