The Senate voted 82-15 Tuesday to send the immigration bill to the floor for deliberation.
Clearing this “key legislative hurdle” opens the way for members on both sides of the aisle to voice not only their support for wholesale immigration reform, but their opposition, as well.
One Republican senator finds himself straddling the line between wanting to overhaul the current immigration system and preventing changes that would open the border wider to an influx of illegal immigrants and infringe upon civil liberties through the creation of a national ID card.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky., shown) announced late last week that he would propose an amendment to the immigration bill offered by the bipartisan group of senators known as the Gang of Eight.
The Paul amendment makes immigration reform conditional on Congress voting on whether the border is secure, requiring completion of a border fence in five years and a protection against the federal government establishing a national identification card system for citizens.
On May 24 Paul penned an op-ed in the Washington Times advocating an end to calls for a national ID, such as that proposed by the REAL ID Act. Paul wrote:
The controversial immigration-reform bill that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee this week is expected to be considered by the Senate in June. Many see measures contained in this bill, such as a strong E-Verify and a “photo tool,” as a means to control unlawful immigrants’ access to unlawful employment. I worry that they go too far.
I think there are better ideas that err on the side of individual privacy while still strengthening our borders. We should scrap a national identification database and pass immigration reform that secures the border, expands existing work-visa programs and prevents noncitizens from access to welfare. These simple ideas will eliminate the perceived need for an invasive worker-verification system and a government citizenship database.
I am against the idea that American citizens should be forced to carry around a National Identification Card as a condition of citizenship. I worry that the Senate is working to consider a series of little-noticed provisions in comprehensive immigration reform that may provide a pathway to a national ID card for all individuals present in the United States — citizens and noncitizens. These draconian ideas would simply give government too much power.
Beyond blocking the institution of a REAL ID program, Senator Paul’s "Trust but Verify” amendment requires Congress to write and enforce a border security blueprint rather than relying on bureaucracies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, to come up with a plan. The amendment also would provide new national security safeguards to track the holders of student visas and those provided asylum and refugee status. The Paul amendment demands that the Department of Homeland Security “finally follow through on the broken promise” of securing the southern border and improving the visa tracking system.
As Paul told The New American in a phone interview, the “Trust but Verify” amendment would require Congress to vote every year on whether the border is sufficiently secure. If Congress determines that border security is lax, the immigration reforms will be put on hold and visa programs will be stifled until security returns to an acceptable level.
In addition to the “Trust but Verify” amendment, Senator Paul plans to offer three additional amendments to the immigration bill.
First, he will propose the “No New Pathway to Citizenship” amendment. As described by Senator Paul, this addition to the larger immigration legislation
removes the new and exclusive visa category and pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The amendment expands existing work visa categories instead of creating a new Registered Provisional Immigrant status. This updated work visa will not give any individual a new pathway to citizenship; rather they will be treated as if they are in line in their home country. No preference will be given to those on a work visa over individuals who are in line and outside the borders of the United States.
The second amendment Paul promises to offer — the “Secure the Vote” amendment — “ensures that individuals on work visas or given status under the bill are not allowed to vote in federal elections until they become citizens. The amendment will provide new procedures to encourage states to check that individuals gaining status or a work visa are not registered to vote.”
Finally, when the Gang of Eight’s bill begins debate later this week, Senator Paul plans to offer the “Secure the Treasury” Taxpayer Protection Amendment. This change to the immigration legislation provides “further protections for taxpayers against individuals in a new immigration status from becoming dependent on the welfare state. This amendment will prevent individuals in Registered Provisional Immigrant status from getting access to Obamacare and welfare.”
This last measure is a crucial part of demagnetizing the United States, reducing the attraction of innumerable illegals that cross the border with Mexico with the sole purpose of seeking to add their names to the lengthy dole roll, increasing the already crushing tax burden that is obliterating the prosperity of the American middle class.
In addition to the amendments to be offered by Senator Rand Paul, the New York Times reports that “senators from both parties are readying dozens more amendments” to the Gang of Eight’s immigration package.
Debate on the 1,076-page Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill (S. 744) will resume Wednesday morning at 9:30 EST.
Photo of Sen. Rand Paul: AP Images