In a letter sent to his colleagues on Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz outlined why he and several other Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will oppose a bipartisan attempt at immigration reform.
Cruz, R-Texas, and U.S. Sens. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.; Mike Lee, R-Utah; and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, say that the current proposal, a measure authored by a coalition of senators known as the “Gang of Eight,” fails to secure the border or prevent future inflows of illegal migrants.
The bill, S. 744, is scheduled to go before the full Senate for markups next week.
Cruz says that the current bill would legalize undocumented immigrants without first securing the border; reward criminal aliens, absconders and deportees; and make it easier to commit fraud in the immigration system.
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“We must welcome and celebrate legal immigrants, but S. 744 fails to deliver anything more than the same empty promises Washington has been making for 30 years,” the senators wrote. “The last thing this country needs right now is another 1,000-plus page bill that, like Obamacare, was negotiated behind closed doors with special interests.”
The senators write in the letter that although they understand the urgency and need for immigration reform, they believe the current proposal stalls progress on several issues, such as overhauling the current legal immigration system and delaying the implementation of E-Verify, the electronic employment verification system that is currently only required for companies with federal contracts.
Cruz added that several amendments that would have improved the bill, including three he filed and three filed by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, were rejected. Those proposals include measures that would have increased border security personnel and created metrics to measure border security success, and a proposal to prevent undocumented immigrants from receiving federal, state or local welfare benefits.
Cruz and his colleagues voiced their criticisms the same day U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a “Gang of Eight” member, said the bill still needed to be improved.
“Rubio said he will oppose any ‘horse trading’ by his colleagues to try to sway support, and said the bill’s fate rests on whether voters believe it will lead to better enforcement,” the Washington Times reported.
Rubio’s concerns prompted America’s Voice, a coalition of liberal pro-reform groups, to counter and claim the current measure does more for border security than current law.
“The border and interior enforcement upgrades already in the bill amount to the largest enforcement increase in American history,” Frank Sherry, the executive director of America’s Voice, said in a statement. “In the end, however, immigration reform will be judged a success only if the legislation finds the sweet spot – one that combines strong enforcement with an inclusive and achievable path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants living in our nation. Loading up on enforcement in a way that threatens the path to citizenship would undermine the balance carefully forged in the Gang of Eight bill.”
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