The Senate voted 54-43 on Thursday to table an amendment from Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to implement a number of border security measures before undocumented immigrants are given legal staus and put on a path to citizenship.
Cornyn’s amendment called for 100 percent surveillance of the southern border and a 90 percent apprehension rate of those illegally crossing the border. It also required the government to implement a nationwide biometric entry-exit system and for mandatory E-Verify system across the country.
Border security remains a contentious issue between Democrats and Republicans in both the Senate and the House. Democrats want to legalize the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. Republicans want increased border security to keep potential illegal crossers out before any form of citizenship is granted to those already here. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., labeled Cornyn's amendment as a “poison pill,” saying passing such a measure could kill the comprehensive immigration reform bill. Still, he decided to let it come for a vote this week.
On the Senate floor on Wednesday, Cornyn told his colleagues that he was hopeful in drafting a reform bill they would have arrived at legislation that would improve border security instead of promising to do so. He said the 2013 immigration reform bill contained “hollow promised but no real trigger.” To get a reform bill passed in the House, Cornyn warned, means offering lawmakers in that chamber something more on border security.
“I don’t think that promises alone are good enough,” he said.
“Make no mistake, border security is not an alternative to immigration reform. It is a necessary complement,” Cornyn later added. “Why not give this bill some momentum as it goes over to the House of Representatives? … Everybody knows that the Senate bill is dead on arrival in the House.”