Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, says the bipartisan Gang of Eight is in danger of making the same mistakes of past immigration-reform efforts by trying to do everything at once and putting illegal aliens on a path to citizenship before knowing if border security efforts are successful.
Lee is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and has waded through much of the 844-page bill.
He says the legislation doesn't approach the key issues one at a time, which he believes is essential if Congress is going to enact reform correctly.
"Immigration reform that I tend to envision would include real border security, visa modernization, employment verification, robust guest worker programs for high low-skilled workers and a compassionate approach to dealing with those people who are currently in the country illegally," Lee told WND.
However, he explains those vital components must be addressed incrementally to provide meaningful results. And until that happens, he won't support the legislation in its current form.
Lee worries that green-lighting the legal status of millions of illegals before confirming the border is secure would make our problems even worse.
"That's a concern that is based on historical experience, based on what we saw in 1986, when we ended up granting legal status to those illegally in the country at the time and putting them on a pathway to citizenship. The promise was made then, 'OK, we're going to secure the border once and for all. We're going to solve the illegal immigration problem once and for all and, all at the same time, we're going to legalize those currently here illegally.' Of course, those who were here illegally were legalized but we didn't fix the underlying problem," said Lee.
Lee says he can't gauge the level of support for the Gang of Eight plan yet because the bill still needs to go through the committee process. He suspects most Senate Democrats will back the plan but does not believe it can pass the Republican-led House of Representatives.
As a result, Lee says the smart thing would be for lawmakers to build a bipartisan consensus around smaller bills in a proper order to address the problems in our immigration system.