Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the Senate Minority Whip, introduced an amendment on Wednesday intended to improve the lagging border security aspects of the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill. The amendment would still allow illegal immigrants to be legalized, but would potentially suspend the “path to citizenship” until the border is secured.
Among other things, Cornyn’s amendment would require 100 percent “situational awareness” of the entire border, “full operational control” or a 90 percent apprehension rate along the entire border, a “biometric exit system” and a “nationwide e-verify system.” It would only require those metrics be implemented for illegal immigrants to go from Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status to Legal Permanent Resident (LPR), or green card, status. The Cornyn amendment would essentially, in theory, prevent illegal immigrants from moving on to the second step of a pathway to citizenship without those border security provisions being fixed.
What the amendment does is institute a real border security “trigger,” as Gang of Eight members refer to such promises, along a pathway to citizenship.
In addition to that, the amendment would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to certify the completion of those border security metrics, rather than delegating such authority to the Department of Homeland Security or some newly created government commission.
While the amendment may make the bill’s border security provisions a little stronger, it does not secure the border before granting amnesty to America’s at least 11 million illegal immigrants–essentially leaving the fundamental flaw critics see in the Gang of Eight legislation intact.
People like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Gang of Eight who has promised to vote against his own legislation if it does not fix the border security problems, have offered support for the Cornyn amendment. “What he’s asking for, which is a real way to measure border security and hopefully specifics on border security, is something that I think will get this bill where it needs to be,” Rubio said of Cornyn’s amendment, according to Politico.
While providing political cover for Republicans who want to support the Gang of Eight bill does not appear to have been Cornyn’s goal in introducing such an amendment, many Republicans like Rubio seem to be trying to use it as such. But regardless of the various political movements at play here, the Cornyn amendment has had the effect of splitting the Gang of Eight in two as some Republicans like Rubio have offered support for it while Democrats have vowed to kill it.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), on the other hand, has offered a border security amendment that would guarantee border security before amnesty and would require Congress to determine the border is secure, not DHS.