It didn’t take long for one of the GOP establishment’s most public faces to reveal why House Speaker John Boehner’s amnesty advocate Becky Tallent was pushing last week to revive the once-dead border bill from House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX).
In a lengthy Senate floor speech on Wednesday, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)—a member of the “Gang of Eight” amnesty group from last Congress that failed to get its bill through both chambers—said that Republicans shouldn’t “poke the president in the eye” by fighting to stop his executive amnesty.
“I want to say from the outset that I don’t think the president did the right thing by taking this unilateral action,” Flake said on the Senate floor about the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill that blocks Obama’s executive amnesty actions.
I think he’s made it more difficult to pass immigration reform in this body. Having said that, to attempt to use a spending bill in order to try to poke a finger in the president’s eye is not a good move in my view. I believe that rather than poke the president in the eye, we ought to put legislation on his desk. And we ought to use this time, we’ve already used up two weeks trying to attach the measure to a funding bill when we could have used this time to actually move actual immigration legislation.
The “immigration legislation” Flake specifically mentioned he wants to push is the border bill from McCaul.
“There has been a bill introduced in the House and in the Senate,” Flake said about it. “I happen to be a cosponsor of the bill in the Senate which would help us get a more secure border. That’s one piece of legislation we could be moving right now and put on the president’s desk.”
The Senate version of the McCaul border bill was introduced before the House had to pull the McCaul bill due to lack of support. Flake joined Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX)–the Majority Whip–and Ron Johnson (R-WI) in introducing the Senate version of the bill.
Flake then laid out how the McCaul border bill would be the first in a series of bills, including an amnesty for illegal aliens, an increase in guest workers including H-1B visas that take jobs away from Americans.
“We also need legislation to expand the guest worker plans and programs that we have now, legislation that has been introduced in this body already to deal with high-tech workers,” Flake said.
Later, he specifically talked about the need for an amnesty for illegal aliens—something any member who supports the McCaul border bill is in essence enabling.
We also need, obviously, to move legislation to deal with those who are here illegally, the so-called DREAMers. Those who are here from no fault of their own who have come to this country, been brought when they were 2 years old or 10 years old and are now as American as you or me. They ought to be given a path where they can stay here in some kind of certainty moving ahead. That needs to be done by Congress. We can’t simply be done by the president and executive action. That legislation could move here now as well. We obviously need to deal with legislation for the broader class of those who are here illegally. We dealt with it in the Senate Bill 744 that was introduced and passed in the Senate in the last Congress that provided a way for those who are here illegally to get right with the law, to deport those who are in a criminal class but also allow those who are here who want to adjust their status to find a way to do so and be able to stay here. Legislation like that could move as well.
Flake then bemoaned that, instead of using the McCaul border bill as a cover bill for the eventual amnesty and other controversial immigration legislative pieces—essentially the breaking of up of the Gang of Eight bill into pieces—Republicans are spending their time trying to stop Obama’s executive amnesty.
“Instead, we’re spending weeks just trying to make a statement on a spending bill,” Flake complained.
Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) was the first to warn that the McCaul bill is a “Trojan Horse” for a larger controversial immigration package. He and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, have been sounding the alarm about the McCaul bill’s many problems in addition to that.
Specifically, the McCaul bill doesn’t have a double-layer border fence for the full 700 miles required by current law. It only provides such a fence for 48 miles of the border because, as several aides to McCaul said in interviews with Breitbart News and in private meetings on Capitol Hill, McCaul doesn’t think building a fence would help stop illegal immigration–and because a fence would be too expensive.
In addition, most importantly, the McCaul bill does nothing to stop Obama’s catch-and-release of illegal aliens. Right now, if Border Patrol apprehends an illegal alien at the border, the illegal is transferred to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) processing facility. From there, the illegal is essentially guaranteed the ability to stay in the United States pretty much indefinitely under the president’s non-enforcement directives. Rep. Brat has an amendment to the McCaul bill that would stop Obama’s catch-and-release by allowing Border Patrol to process, then immediately deport, any new illegal aliens caught crossing the border.
Instead of embracing that solution, however, Republicans in the GOP establishment—including specifically Speaker Boehner’s amnesty advocate Becky Tallent—have argued that they don’t have jurisdiction to do so, even though McCaul’s own team admitted to Breitbart News that yes, in fact, they do.