Despite committing to be open to improving their bill, Members of the Senate Gang of Eight on the Judiciary Committee rejected a multitude of amendments intended to strengthen the bill’s border security provisions.
At the Senate Judiciary Committee’s markup hearing Thursday to address the “border security” provisions (Title I) of the Gang of Eight amnesty bill, the two Republican Gang of Eight Members — Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) — consistently voted with the Committee’s 10 Democrats to block changes to the bill’s core “border security” provisions. As a result, the Committee failed to pass any meaningful reforms to the Gang’s nearly 900-page bill.
The only positive amendment adopted by the Committee was an amendment by Ranking Member Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to require the 90% apprehension rate goal outlined in the legislation to apply to all border sectors instead of just “high risk” sectors. (See Grassley Amdt. #1) As introduced, the Gang of Eight bill requires DHS to achieve a 90% apprehension rate at the U.S.-Mexico border, but only in “high risk” border sectors. The bill defines “high risk” as sectors in which border patrol agents catch 30,000 or more unlawful entrants per year. Sen. Grassley’s amendment struck all mention of “high-risk” sectors from the bill.
True immigration reformers offered numerous other amendments, but those failed. For example, Sen. Grassley offered an amendment that required that the border be under “effective control” for at least six months before DHS could process amnesty applications. Similarly, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) offered an amendment that: (1) required the border be secured before an amnesty could take place, (2) tripled the number of border patrol agents, (3) quadrupled the number of drones and cameras, (4) completed the border fence, and (5) implemented the biometric entry-exit system (US-VISIT). Sen. Lee introduced an amendment requiring Congress to certify the border as secured before any illegal aliens could be amnestied.
To view a listing of all of Thursday’s amendments, click here. The Senate Judiciary Committee continued amending the bill Tuesday at 10 a.m.