Republicans gum up the works on immigration reform.
Today, the United States Senate will begin debate on the so-called comprehensive immigration plan. Senators will consider the overall legislation, and dozens of amendments, before a final vote can be reached. The debate is likely to last weeks, which means a decision may be delayed until after the Senate's Fourth of July recess.
A large portion of that delay will be the result of several “poison pill” amendments, like Sen. John Cornyn's border security benchmarks, and Sen. Rand Paul's provision, which “requires Congress to vote every year on border security.” Democratic Senators have called Cornyn's amendment “unfeasible”, because it requires 90 percent of all illegal border crossings to be stopped before any undocumented immigrant could even apply for legal status. Immigration advocates have called Senator Rand Paul's amendment “extremely problematic”, saying the requirement would mean a path to citizenship is subject to the partisan politics of future Congresses.
And Senators Cornyn and Paul aren't the only Republicans trying to gum up immigration reform. Senator Orrin Hatch will also offer an amendment to increase the number of H1B visas, and allow tech companies to hire immigrants directly, without having to search for American citizens willing to take those jobs. Senators Marco Rubio, Tom Coburn, and Lindsey Graham are also getting in on the action by demanding even stronger border security measures, and congressional control of a plan to secure our Southern border.
These “poison pill” amendments show that many Republican senators are determined to make citizenship – which they call amnesty – unattainable for the 11 million immigrants already living in our country. They include provisions in the legislation that doom it to failure, so they can try to convince Latino voters that it wasn't their fault if and when the immigration bill gets voted down. We'll have to wait and see if Democrats can defeat these poison-pill amendments, and start fixing our broken immigration system.