On April 23, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) proclaimed the Gang of Eight's immigration bill, which he helped draft, "puts in place the toughest enforcement measures in the history of the United States, potentially in the world."
Since then, Sen. Rubio has said (on multiple occasions) there are "valid criticisms of how the border security plan is structured" in the bill he drafted with Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) , John McCain, (A-AZ) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) appeared to validate that criticism, projecting 7.5 million new illegal immigrants will enter the country and take up residency over the next two decades. Per CBO, that works out to a decrease in the future inflow of illegal immigrants by a mere 25 percent.
While the Senate has only voted on four amendments, three of them would have required - not promised, required - real, substantive changes in America's enforcement policies and border security before any current illegal immigrant received amnesty. Not a single member of the Gang of Eight elected to prioritize security over amnesty. In the words of Sen. Rubio, "legalization is not conditional" on anything, even border security.
- Motion to table (or kill) the Grassley amendment to prohibit registered provisional immigrant (RPI) status until the DHS Secretary has maintained effective control of the borders for 6 months. (Motion agreed to 57-43)
- Thune amendment to require the completion of the 350 miles of reinforced, double-layered fencing described before registered provisional immigrant (RPI) status may be granted. (Rejected 39-54)
- Vitter amendment to prohibit registered provisional immigrant (RPI) status until the DHS Secretary a biometric border check-in and check-out system first required by Congress in 1996 has been fully implemented. (Rejected 36-58)
Senators leading the fight against amnesty - specifically Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) - voted no, yes, and yes, respectively. Remember, the magic number in the Senate is 60, and it is noteworthy proponents of amnesty could not muster 60 votes for the legalization-first position on any of these three votes.
Sen. Grassley's amendment may be most revealing, though. If the Gang of Eight's bill is to pass the Senate, at least three Senators will have to flip-flop from their support from his enforcement-first amendment to the Gang's amnesty-first bill.
As the chart below reveals, Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) appear most likely to fit that bill, given they were the only ones to vote for the Grassley amendment but against the Vitter amendment.
Thus far the question over what comes first, amnesty or enforcement, has defined the Senate debate. Americans and their lawmakers must not repeat the mistakes of 1986; they cannot accept talking points disguised as policy. Already, 43 U.S. Senators have signaled Americans need more than meaningless promises offered by the Gang of Eight and various amendments.