In a move some say raises concerns about the openness of the amendment process for the immigration reform bill, the Senate voted Thursday to block an amendment that would require strict border controls before illegal immigrants can pursue a pathway toward citizenship.
The Senate voted 57 to 43 to table the amendment, which was introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The amendment would have required the Secretary of Homeland Security to certify "effective control" over the entire Southern border for six months before any illegal immigrants could apply for legal status.
Opponents of the amendment argued that it could take years to achieve "effective control" of the border, prolonging the problem of what to do with the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country.
"This clearly would undo the entire theme and structure of the immigration bill that has such bipartisan support," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said. "And we may never get to real immigration reform that is needed, so desperately needed by the country."
Meanwhile, Grassley argued that the use of a procedural maneuver to reject the amendment shows that Democrats are not ready to fundamentally change the bill.
"My amendment would ensure we learned our lesson from the mistakes of the past," Grassley said. "Unfortunately, the Majority is obstructing an up or down vote on my common-sense amendment that would help keep us from repeating those past mistakes."
"We only do immigration reform once every 25 years. Surely, we need an amendment process in which true immigration reform can succeed," he added.
While supporters of the bill note that it includes provisions to boost border security, a number of Republicans have argued that the legislation does not go far enough.
Earlier this week, the Senate voted to begin debate on the legislation, although final approval of the bill remains far from certain.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., voted in factor of beginning debate on the bill but argued that the legislation will need major changes if it's going to become law.
by RTT Staff Writer
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