Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee began its markup of the gang of 8 immigration deform bill (s.744). The striking thing about the markup is that any casual observer would think we were living in 1965 or 1986, when there was either relatively low legal immigration or no failed amnesty to look back upon. To most of the senators sitting around the table, the border is more secure than ever (despite the sharp rise in crossings), our record levels of immigration don’t exist, and there is no reason to implement the enforcement before the legalization.
The first vote was on the Schumer manager’s amendment, which is a substitute making technical changes to the bill. This ostensibly is the bill. Yet 4 Republicans – Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn, and Orrin Hatch – joined all the Democrats in supporting it. I’m not sure why someone who ultimately opposes this bill would vote for that. Would they have voted for the defacto Obamacare bill in the form of a substitute? Either way, I overheard Chuck Schumer celebrating the votes of Hatch and Cornyn, noting that it was “a good sign.” If Cornyn and Hatch believe that not to be true, they ought to clarify their position.
Next, Senator Grassley proposed a commonsense amendment to delay all legalization until the enforcement measures are implemented. Dianne Feinstein said, “I have no doubt as to this nation's commitment to enforce this border,” asserting that the border is more secure than ever! Jeff Flake argued that we shouldn’t delay amnesty for security. I wish he had said that during his primary in 2012. Schumer said that such a measure would delay amnesty forever. He’s probably right. These guys have no intention of ever enforcing the law, so it probably would never take place. Every Democrat plus Graham and Flake voted against the amendment.
Later in the markup, Senator Lee proposed a similar amendment, granting Congress the authority to pass the security measures with a simple majority. It also requires Congress to certify that the measures have been sufficiently implemented before any legalization is offered. Lindsey Graham even admitted that the border commission “is not a trigger.” Once again, Flake and Graham voted no with the Democrats.
In an effort to show how open they are to changes, they agreed beforehand to adopt a Grassley amendment (by voice vote) to audit the money given to private organizations. So they’ll audit the money the give to La Raza.
[- The Senate adopted an amendment from Dick Blumenthal that would grant the Attorney General discretion to waive the requirement that states be reimbursed for costs of detaining illegal aliens when there is an allegation of impropriety on the part of local police. You can guarantee this administration would use that "discretion" liberally.
- The Cruz amendment, which would have made a biometric US-Visit and the border fence as a precondition to legalization, was defeated. Orrin Hatch joined Flake and Graham in opposing it. Once again, Chuck Schumer could be heard saying "you heard that?" Good going, Orrin.
- They just adopted another amendment by Senator Hirono to force border agents to search out family members from those detained within "practicable" time. Yet another massive burden on border agents. The amendment passed along party lines.
- Sessions proposed an amendment to complete the 2006 double-layered fence. Every Democrat voted no plus Graham and Flake. This bill passed in 2006 by 80-19. At the time, Schumer, Feinstein, and Graham voted for it. Jeff Flake supported it in the House. The reason they oppose it is because this is something that would actually work, but unlike in 2006, it would be used as accountability to hold up the amnesty. What a bunch of frauds.]
It’s becoming clear that Democrats will ram this though with the help of the Republican gang members who vote down all of the enforcement amendments. They will do the same thing on the floor. Marco Rubio has already made it clear that the triggers need to be strengthened. The Democrats (and Flake/Graham/McCain) have made it clear that they will not allow any structural amendments to pass. The writing is on the wall. This thing will pass if it is not blocked from the floor now.
Rubio entered the negotiations in good faith trying to come out with a somewhat decent product. Mitch McConnell tapped him to join that gang. It’s time for Rubio and McConnell to get off the fence and publicly oppose this bill. They must demand #enforcementfirst.