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Doctor NO: Sen. John Cornyn is Up to His Old Tricks on Immigration

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There he goes again.  Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) is up to his old tricks on immigration.  POLITICO reports that Senator Cornyn will introduce a “sweeping amendment to the immigration bill when it goes to the floor next week, seeking to replace an entire section devoted to border security and tweak the national security and criminal justice titles.”  The Washington Post has an outline of the amendment, which seems to call for hard triggers that threaten the path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants and for restrictions on who is eligible for getting on the path in the first place.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

This is classic Cornyn.  We know the pattern all too well.  He pretends to be sincere about the need for reform.  He asks for changes that are a bridge too far.  He destabilizes the bipartisan agreement already in place.  He helps to thwart reform.  He votes no in the end anyway.  That’s why we bestowed a lifetime achievement award for being the ‘Biggest Hypocrite on Immigration.’”

Despite Senator Cornyn’s rhetoric and supposed rationale, the border and interior enforcement provisions already in the Senate’s immigration bill amount to the largest enforcement increase in American history.  As Senator Cornyn’s home-state Houston Chronicle captures in an editorial today:

The fact is, the federal government has largely met border-security benchmarks laid out in the three immigration-reform bills introduced in the Senate since 2006…implacable opponents of reform will continually move the metrics.  It’s a strategy to sabotage an effort that enjoys bipartisan support in Congress and popular support around the country.

Added Sharry:

While calling himself an immigration reformer, Senator Cornyn has always found a way to ‘get to no’ on immigration.  Back in the McCain-Kennedy days, Senator Cornyn made beautiful speeches about the need for reform.  Then he worked with Jon Kyl to propose a bill aimed at undermining support for McCain-Kennedy.  When the bill moved to the Senate floor in 2006, he proposed poison pill amendments and then, despite the fact that 23 Republicans voted for it, he voted against it.  In 2007, after winning approval for a poison pill amendment that undermined support for the bill and began the demise of the effort, he again voted no.  To add insult to injury, only moments after he helped defeat reform, Senator Cornyn took to the Senate floor and gave a speech about the need to pass immigration reform. In 2010, he voted against the DREAM Act, blocking the bill from the 60 votes needed to end a Republican filibuster and dashing the DREAMs of millions of young people.  And we are supposed to believe that this time he’ll get to yes?  We’re not buying it for a moment.

The bottom line is that bill currently before the Senate has found the sweet spot: it combines the achievable path to citizenship that Democrats need with the largest increase in immigration enforcement in American history that the Republicans say they need.  Messing with this balance threatens the whole project.  Cornyn knows this.  His colleagues should, too.