Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held the first of many hearings on comprehensive immigration reform. In the seven and a half hour hearing, senators debated 32 of the three hundred proposed amendments to the bill, and adopted 21 of the changes. The proposals ranged from plans to correct technical immigration issues, to Sen. Ted Cruz’s amendment to triple the number of border control agents, to Sen. Jeff Sessions’ proposal to construct a 700 mile, double-layered fence along our Southern border.
Thankfully, most of the extreme amendments were voted down, but there’s still cause for concern over the proposals they accepted. One of the most contentious changes was Republican Senator Chuck Grassley’s mandate, that the Department of Homeland Security submit a plan to stop 90 percent of illegal border crossings in high-risk areas, before undocumented individuals already living here can even apply for so-called “provisional immigrant” status. This provision is only slightly better than Grassley’s rejected, poison-pill amendment, which set unattainable benchmarks that DHS had to meet before any pathway to citizenship would be considered.
After losing the Hispanic vote in the 2012 election, Republicans have attempted to paint themselves as pro-immigration, but it’s all an act. The racist and unrealistic GOP amendments in this legislation show they have no real desire to fix our nation’s immigration system. As the Senate Judiciary Committee debates the hundreds of remaining amendments over the coming months, we must prevent these poison-pill provisions from making immigration reform meaningless. Call your Senators and tell them to fight these poison-pill amendments, and support provisions that actually fix our broken immigration system.