Breaking: Senate Rejects Border Security Amendment
Gang of Eight Sticks Together in Key Vote
In the first key vote on immigration reform, the Senate rejected an amendment Thursday that would have required border security before legalization for 11 million illegal immigrants.
The amendment, introduced by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, would have prohibited the granting of legal status to illegal immigrants until the Obama administration certified effective control of the border for six months. The measure failed 57 to 43.
Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake joined their colleagues on the Gang of Eight in opposing the Grassley amendment.
Only two Democrats – Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Joe Manchin of West Virginia- joined 41 Republicans in supporting the amendment to place border security before legalization.
Marco Rubio of Florida stuck with his Gang of Eight colleagues in opposing the amendment. Rubio, a leading Republican with possible presidential aspirations in 2016, was elected in 2010 with strong Tea Party support.
Grassley said the Senate Democratic leadership’s hasty disposal of his amendment showed that the leadership’s promise of a fair and open process is a “farce.”
Grassley’s amendment clashed with the Gang of Eight reform bill that would allow illegal immigrants to apply for legal status within six months of passage of the bill. Democrats and some Republicans fear that any border security requirement before legalization would torpedo the bill.
In a statement issued before the vote, Grassley said the reform bill’s authors have said that they are open to approving the bill.
“Well, my amendment does that,” Grassley said. “My amendment improves the trigger that jump-starts the legalization program. It ensures that the border is secured before one person gets legal status under this act.”
Grassley cited a recent poll that reported 46 percent of those polled in support of immigration reform, but 85 percent said they favored strengthening border security and creating a system to track foreigners entering and leaving the country.