Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) resorted to using inaccurate attacks to attempt to derail a border security amendment to their “Gang of Eight” immigration bill offered by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).
Both McCain and Schumer claimed incorrectly that the amendment would bring 10,000 more Border Patrol agents to the U.S. border with Mexico while discussing the measure on the Senate floor.
“But the fact is that we can get this border secured, and the answer, my friends, as is proposed in the Cornyn amendment that we hire 10,000 more Border Patrol is not a recognition of what we really need,” McCain said.
Schumer, likewise, started off an attack on the Cornyn amendment by saying: “So I would suggest to my colleague that if he wants to add 10,000 Border Patrol…”
In reality, the amendment would only bring 5,000 more Border Patrol agents to the border, with an additional 5,000 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents serving in a distinctly different function from Border Patrol agents. Border Patrol agents protect the nation at the borders with Mexico and Canada; CBP agents secure the nation’s airports, seaports, and other points of entry other than the actual border.
Schumer also claimed that “under my colleague from Texas’ proposal, not one single person could achieve citizenship.” Similarly, that comment is not accurate. The amendment would institute a trigger that, after the border has been certifiably secured and several other criteria have been met, illegal immigrants could apply to transition from Registered Provisional Immigration (RPI), or legalized status, to Legal Permanent Resident (LPR), a green card.
Cornyn’s amendment does not prevent illegal immigrants from eventually gaining citizenship, it makes simply makes citizenship conditional on the border being secured, something Gang of Eight members have claimed all along their bill would achieve.
When it came to the cost and money disbursement part of the Cornyn amendment, Schumer again made a series of statements with questionable veracity. “It is estimated it would be in the original amendment as much as $25 billion,” Schumer said, prompting Cornyn to correct him on the floor.
That did not stop Schumer from making another inaccurate cost estimate of the Cornyn amendment. He later claimed that “my good friend from his side of the aisle, Senator Graham, estimated this morning that the total cost would be $18 billion. I think if you add a type of land-based exit-entry, it goes up another $7 billion, $8 billion.”
Cornyn corrected Schumer again, prompting Schumer to back off somewhat. “We think we have maximized the effectiveness for about a third of the money that our colleague is talking about,” Schumer then said.
In actuality, the Cornyn amendment would appropriate $6.5 billion to border security–the same amount the Gang of Eight bill does already.
McCain had also described the Cornyn amendment as a “poison pill” designed to kill the bill. However, McCain’s fellow Gang of Eight member Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) flatly contradicted him. “I don’t think it’s a poison pill,” Flake said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, according to the Dallas Morning News.