The Gang of Eight loudmouths, particularly Senators Schumer and Rubio, insist that they are open to amendments to improve their 844-page bill. But when the Judiciary Committee met on Thursday to begin sorting through the hundreds of amendments, the deal was already cut. As Senator Jeff Sessions analyzed in a press release, the Gang of Eight met in advance to decide to what they would agree, and amendments that would improve border security were defeated. The bill which has been spun as being balanced in fact has no effective enforcement.
WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement on the Gang of Eight’s decision to block much-needed improvements to their legislation:
“One of the things that most upsets the American people about Washington is drafting a bill with special interests in secret and jamming it across the finish line in a way that minimizes public involvement and input. Despite touting their legislation as “the toughest border enforcement in history,” the Gang of Eight bill failed to live up to every major promise of its sponsors—including the promise of enforcement first—resulting in a bill that is even weaker than the rejected 2007 plan. This legislation needs improvement and openness.
Despite insistence on their openness to improving the legislation, the Gang has continued to stick together to defeat any amendment that would make any serious improvement to border security.
The National Journal reports today that ‘The night before Thursday’s marathon committee markup, members of the Senate’s Gang of Eight and their staffs huddled in a room in the Capitol to decide what amendments to their immigration bill they would let live—and what must die… Each evening, the gang will reconvene before the Judiciary Committee meets to analyze the next day’s slew of amendments and decide, collectively, what stays and what goes.’
Their legislation fails to achieve their stated goals. Their refusal to recognize that, demonstrates they are more committed to the flawed product than producing an immigration bill that serves the national interest.”
BACKGROUND ON YESTERDAY’S REJECTED AMENDMENTS:
1. Sessions amendment to define “effective control” of the border
The amendment would assure that “effective control” reflects current law as defined in the Secure Fence Act of 2006, by specifically including prevention of unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband. “Effective control” would trigger the initiation of the legalization process. The amendment failed by a vote of 6–12, with all Democrats and the two Gang of Eight Republicans voting no, while all the other Republicans voted yes.
2. Sessions amendment to require completion of border fencing
This amendment would require that 700 miles of border fencing—already required by law to be constructed—be “substantially complete” before the legalization process begins. As written, the Gang of Eight legislation only requires the DHS Secretary to submit a fencing plan (which may well require no additional fencing whatsoever) to trigger the start of the legalization process. There is no requirement in the bill that any fence be built at all. Currently, only 36 miles of double-layer fencing exists. The rest of the border has a combination of single-layer pedestrian fencing and vehicle barriers, both of which are easily scalable. The amendment also clarified the term “fencing” as: “Only fencing that is double-layered and constructed in a way to effectively restrain pedestrian traffic may be used to satisfy the 700-mile requirement under this subparagraph. Fencing that does not effectively restrain pedestrian traffic (such as vehicle barriers and virtual fencing) does not satisfy the requirement under this subparagraph.” The amendment failed by a vote of 6–12, with all Democrats and the two Gang of Eight Republicans voting no, while all the other Republicans voted yes.
3. Grassley amendment to require a secure border before legalization begins
This amendment would require the Secretary of DHS to certify to Congress that the border has been secured for six months before the legalization process may begin. In the Gang of Eight legislation, the Secretary must simply tell Congress that DHS has begun to secure the southern border in order for legalization to commence. This amendment would disallow the Secretary from simply stating she has controlled the border to start the legalization process, instead of requiring actual control of the southern border for six months first. The amendment failed by a vote of 6–12, with all Democrats and the two Gang of Eight Republicans voting no, while all the other Republicans voted yes.
4. Cruz amendment to replace the Gang of Eight’s border security section
This amendment would require the border be secured within three years of the bill’s becoming law, and prohibit the legalization process from beginning before the border has been secured. Border security would be achieved through: tripling the number of border agents on the southern border; quadrupling surveillance assets; completing the 700 miles of fencing required by the Secure Fence Act of 2006; proving effective information sharing of flow and smuggling patterns between the Department of Defense and federal law enforcement; completion of a biometric exit system as required by current law; and establishing complete operational control of the southern border as defined by the Secure Fence Act. The amendment failed by a vote of 6–12, with all Democrats and the two Gang of Eight Republicans voting no, while all the other Republicans voted yes.
5. Grassley amendment to close a border security trigger loophole
This amendment would strike the provision that allows the DHS Secretary to permit registered provisional immigrants to adjust to lawful permanent resident status if any of the “triggers” relating to border security are not implemented because of ongoing litigation or “other circumstances beyond the control of the Secretary.” The amendment failed by a vote of 6–12, with all Democrats and the two Gang of Eight Republicans voting no, while all the other Republicans voted yes.
6. Lee amendment to replace the Gang of Eight bill with border security legislation
This amendment would strike the bill in its entirety and replace it with Senator Cornyn’s Border Security Results Act of 2013, which would: require the DHS Secretary to issue reports every 6 months on the state of operational control of U.S. international borders; submit to Congress (within 120 days of the law’s enactment) a comprehensive strategy to achieve and maintain operational control of all U.S. borders within 2 years; implement metrics to measure security at ports of entry that would then be assessed by GAO, and; if the Secretary determines operational control has been achieved, submit a certification to the Comptroller. If the Comptroller verifies, a certification would then be sent to Congress by GAO. The amendment failed by a vote of 6–12, with all Democrats and the two Gang of Eight Republicans voting no, while all the other Republicans voted yes.
7. Lee amendment to fast-track congressional consideration and approval of the southern border security strategies
This amendment would require congressional approval of the DHS Secretary’s Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy and Southern Border Fencing Strategy before legalization may commence. Both the House and Senate would be required to vote on the strategies within 30 days of their submission. With congressional approval, the strategies would then require the President’s signature. Additionally, the Secretary would have to certify that the strategies are substantially deployed and operational for registered provisional immigrants to adjust status to legal permanent residents. The amendment failed by a vote of 6–12, with all Democrats and the two Gang of Eight Republicans voting no, while all the other Republicans voted yes.