Although the Senate recently passed S. 744, the Gang of Eight’s 1,200-page bill that would immediately grant amnesty to illegal aliens in the U.S. before any enforcement efforts are made, several open borders groups are now opposing the bill based on border security provisions they say are too extreme.
“[W]e cannot support a bill that is  guaranteed to increase death and destruction in immigrant life through increased militarization of the border,” the pro-amnesty group presente.org said in a June 24 statement. The Border Network for Human Rights made a similar statement last week, saying S. 744 no longer represents their interests. “If this bill becomes the law, it will swallow our traditional values of freedom and liberty for all and gravely endanger our rights and dignity. For the more than six million people who live in border American communities between San Diego, California and Brownsville, Texas, S.744 is a promise of abuse, violation and death.”
The outpouring of dissent from open borders groups comes in response to the inclusion of the Corker-Hoeven amendment to the bill. In the days leading up to its final passage, Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and John Hoeven (R-ND) brokered a backroom deal with Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) over a “border security” amendment to gain Republican votes to pull the bill over the finish line. Among other things, the amendment’s authors say it will secure the U.S. border with Mexico by adding 19,200 Border Patrol agents to the Southern border, require that 700 miles of fencing be built along the Southern border, and require DHS to implement billions of dollars in specific technology and resources for each Southern border sector.
However, despite these claims by the bill’s authors, its provisions are so watered down with exceptions and administrative waivers they are effectively non-existent. (See The Corker-Hoeven Amendment is a Mirage) For example, the Corker-Hoeven amendment left intact existing language in the bill that provides the Secretary of Homeland Security is not obligated to build a single mile of fencing if he or she does not feel it is necessary to secure the border. Moreover, while the amendment specifically enumerates certain technology be placed along the border, the amendment also provides that the Secretary may reallocate any of the resources required by the bill or substitute the technologies listed with any other technologies the Secretary deems fit, again rendering the provision useless. Nonetheless, open borders groups who feel the Obama Administration is already too tough on immigration have decried these provisions as too strict, demonstrating these groups will not stop until there is zero immigration enforcement.
In addition, several pro-amnesty Members of Congress are expressing similar concerns. In fact, Rep. Filemon Vela (R-TX) resigned from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to protest the Caucus’ strong support for the Senate bill. “Erecting more border fence drives a wedge between border communities which are culturally united… The current border fence has come to symbolize divisiveness and serves as a daily reminder of a flawed immigration system,” said Vela. (CBS News, July 3, 2013) Fellow Texas Democrat Rep. Beto O’Rourke agreed with Vela and argued against what he calls any “further militarization” of our nation’s borders. “Rather than further militarize our border by spending $50 billion to double the number of Border Patrol agents and build more than 700 miles of border wall for a threat that does not exist, we should focus scarce resources on economic opportunities and on real threats like terrorism, drug trafficking, and smuggling,” said O’Rourke. (O’Rourke Press Release, June 27, 2013)
Such opposition to increased enforcement is hardly new to the open borders movement. Several groups criticized the 1986 amnesty for not being broad enough, including the National Council of La Raza where current White House Director of Domestic Policy, Cecilia Munoz, was then a senior vice president. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Mar. 4, 2013)