Senator Mike Lee’s (R-UT) amendment, attached to the Gang of 8 immigration bill, failed to pass yesterday in the Senate. Amendment 1208 required congressional approval of any plans to secure the border before any person receives the status of Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI).
Last week Lee spoke against the immigration bill, and disagreed with the Executive branch having so much control over the immigration issue. He said:
By passing this bill, Congress would turn over almost all authority to the executive branch to secure or not secure the border, verify or not verify workplace enforcement, certify or not certify visa reforms.
And, of course, the administration will begin the legalization of 11 million illegal immigrants, with no input from Congress, as soon as possible regardless of how much progress has been made on the border and other priorities.
Amendment 1208 would have kept Congress in the loop about immigration process. Lee explained the amendment could be a fast-track vote so no immigration action would be delayed.
Mr. President, amendment number 1208 would require fast-track congressional approval at the introduction of the Department of Homeland Security border security strategies, before the award of Registered Provisional Immigrant, or RPI status, and before the eligibility for that status begins, and also at the certification of the strategy’s completion, before those receiving RPI Status may become eligible to become lawful permanent residents, eligible to receive green cards.
This would be a fast track vote, one that would have to occur within 30 days after the triggering event within the executive branch. It would also be subject to a 51-vote threshold and would not be subject to a filibuster.
He continued to stress the importance of Congress and their need to oversee the executive branch. It is also Congress’s job to make sure the executive branch enforces the laws from Congress. One failed law is the US Visit entry-exit system, which was put in place in 1996. It has not been fully implemented and 40% of the illegal immigrants have overstayed their visas. Lee said these are failures of the federal government and the American people need Congress to hold unelected officials responsible for their actions.
To cut congress out, cuts out the American people. And that’s exactly what this bill, without an amendment like this one, would do. So it is important to remember that to cut out congress cuts out the American people and that’s what we’re trying to protect against here.
It is, after all, the American people who have to deal with the consequences of a dangerous and unsecured border. They will have to deal with cross-border violence. They will have to deal with the heartbreaking stories of human trafficking. They will have to deal with the drugs that are imported in to their communities. They will have to deal with the economic effects and the added costs of public services associated with an ongoing unsecure border. Therefore, it is the American people who should be the ones who get to say whether or not the border is secure, not the unelected unaccountable bureaucrats who have a long track record of failing fully to implement objectives established by Congress embodied in law.
Lee was very disappointed when his amendment was not passed.
“The failure of my amendment means their voices have been silenced and the unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats will determine for themselves whether or not border security goals have been met. It is yet another indication that the supporters of this bill are not serious about fixing our broken immigration system or securing the border.”