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On Immigration Reform, Ayotte and Cornyn Show the Difference Between Bipartisan Problem-Solving and Partisan Troublemaking

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On CBS’s “Face the Nation” yesterday, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) announced her support of the Senate’s immigration bill, including its path to citizenship provision.  Now according to Chuck Todd and the NBC News Political Unit, “There are at least 60 votes for the bill.”

The developments of recent days show that there is a right way and a wrong way to move the immigration bill forward.  The right way to pass a bill is to respect the need for bipartisan compromise – a compromise that balances an unprecedented build up of immigration enforcement with an achievable path to citizenship.  That’s how the Gang of Eight has operated all along and it’s the strategy supported by Senator Ayotte.  The wrong way  is to propose poison pill amendments that could block the path to citizenship and adopt a “take it or leave” approach.  That’s how Senator Cornyn (R-TX) has operated in the Senate Judiciary Committee mark up and last week when he tried to position himself as the man on a border security provision.

When Cornyn floated his trial balloon on enforcement last week, the reaction exposed the vast difference between bipartisan law-making and partisan troublemaking:

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: Appearing on Univision’s “Al Punto” show aired on Sunday morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, “We have a senator from Texas, Senator Cornyn who wants to change border security, a trigger, saying that it has to be a 100 percent border security, or [there will] be no bill. That’s a poison pill…This is only an attempt to hurt the bill.”
  • Senator Lindsey Graham: Senator Graham (R-SC) said, “If you change the trigger, it would probably fall apart.  Having unachievable triggers is not going to be acceptable to our Democratic colleagues.”
  • USA Today Editorial Board: USA Today editorialized, “taken to extremes, demands for tough enforcement can be used as a tool for killing reform entirely.  And that, unfortunately, appears to be the tactic of choice for some Senate Republicans…One case in point is a proposed amendment to the compromise bill crafted by the so-called Gang of Eight senators.  Written by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the amendment would turn the plan’s 10-year wait for green cards for undocumented workers into a never-ending one.”  The editorial concludes, “Unlike 1986’s political sleight of hand, this year’s legislation is a tough, credible plan for preventing a new surge of illegal immigration.  A quest for unattainable perfection should not be allowed to undo the good that it would achieve.”

While Cornyn tried to appear “reasonable” in announcing his amendment, his reputation as an immigration hypocrite tainted his message.  His credibility rating is now approaching that of his ideological twin Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who made the ridiculous claim last Friday that the “federal government has reached a point now where virtually no one is being deported except those being convicted of serious crimes.”  This is a stunningly false statistic, given the fact that the Obama Administration continues to break records on deportations, and many of the so-called “criminals” included in their tallies have nothing more serious than a traffic violation.

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

We are confident that bipartisan lawmaking will win out over partisan troublemaking when it comes to immigration reform.  The path to citizenship is the heart of the immigration bill, and judging by the pushback to the Cornyn amendment and the continued isolation of Jeff Sessions, we are optimistic it will remain intact as the debate moves forward.