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Yesterday, the Senate voted on the Corker/Hoeven “border surge” amendment. As our Executive Director Frank Sharry noted:
The Corker-Hoeven border security amendment is terrible public policy and a bitter pill to swallow. It would waste billions of dollars on useless border fencing and an excessive number of border patrol agents, without taking into consideration the views of those who will be most directly affected by the provisions – border community residents. We are disappointed that it has taken this amendment to get enough Republicans to ensure passage of the bill.
But even those over-stringent provisions wasn’t enough to get some Republicans. Sixty-seven Senators voted for the amendment, including every Democrat present and 15 Republicans. Twenty-seven Republicans voted against (six Senators weren’t there and didn’t vote.) The roll call for the vote is here.
Within that group of GOP no votes (we call them the “No Reform EVER” caucus) are some of the loudest critics of immigration reform — and much of their criticism has been about the supposed lack of border security in the Senate bill. Here’s background on some of these GOP no votes:
Rand Paul has been suggesting that he may support immigration reform for months now if border security is strengthened. But he voted no on the Hoeven-Corker amendment because it doesn’t give Congress (with its 10% approval rating) micro-management authority over the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Paul is the type of Tea Partier who likes to pick and choose which principles of the Constitution he defends, and “separation of powers” is clearly not one of them.
Ohio’s Sen. Rob Portman also voted no because he won’t support anything unless he gets his own personal E-Verify amendment. The Senate bill already includes mandatory E-Verify. This smacks of political gamesmanship, not leadership.
Ted Cruz wants to be President and has decided to become the anti-Rubio — and he’s going overboard to do that. Cruz’ favorite amendment would block any person who ever spent time in the U.S. without immigration status from becoming an American citizen—ever. It went down in flames during the Judiciary Committee markup, but that hasn’t stopped him from trying to offer it again. This is the definition of a “message amendment.” Given the demographic realities (see, for example how well Mitt “self-deportation” Romney did with Latino voters), it’s impossible to see how sending that sort of “message” to Latino voters could ever earn anyone a path to the White House.
And, then there are Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III and David Vitter. Border security was one of their big issues, until it wasn’t. With these two, nothing short of mass deportation would earn their vote.
John Cornyn, of course, is in his own special category. He voted against cloture on Hoeven-Corker after saying time and time again how much he wants immigration reform to pass–and that strengthening border security was the key to passing it. That’s right, he voted against an amendment that would double the border patrol and finish the ‘dang fence’, among other things. We told you so! Cornyn is duplicitous and always finds a way to get to no, once again proving we made the right choice in choosing him for our (highly competitive) Lifetime Achievement Award in Hypocrisy on Immigration.
The debate continues today — and we’re moving towards final passage on Thursday, despite the best efforts of the “No Reform EVER” caucus. Let their actions be a lesson to the House of what NOT to do.