Today Senate opened its formal debate over the amendments for the Gang of 8 immigration reform bill.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on 31 amendments of the 301 that were filed on Tuesday. Of those 31, 21 have been adopted. The rest were withdrawn or rejected.
The amendments passed mostly dealt with improvements to border security. Several Senators stated the importance of securing the border first if the bill is to have any chance passing in the House of Representatives.
The Senators discussed similarities between this immigration reform bill’s path to citizenship and the amnesty program put in place during Reagan’s administration. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and others agreed that without tougher measures to secure the border the population of undocumented immigrants will grow as it did after the 1986 overhaul.
An amendment from Grassley that has been adopted calls for the development of a federal government plan to secure the entire border, not just the “high-risk areas” stated in the Gang of 8 Bill. Securing the entire border means reaching 90 percent effectiveness throughout.
The Committee did not adopt all amendments discussed today that dealt with Border Patrol, however. Among the amendments rejected was one that would have tripled the size of the U.S. Border Patrol and quadrupled federal funding for unmanned aerial drones and helicopters on the U.S.-Mexico border. This would have a had a very high cost.
At the end of the session, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was proud to say 20 of the adopted amendments were adopted through a bipartisan vote.
Out of the 21 adopted amendments, 8 were from Republicans.
The Senators got through Title I of the bill. They are set to meet again on Tuesday.
This process is expected to take a few weeks.
More on Immigration Reform:
- Immigration Reform 2013
- Gang of 8
- Earned Citizenship
- Streamlining Immigration
- Strengthening Border Security
- More Accountability for Employers Hiring Undocumented Immigrants