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The bipartisan Gang of Eight immigration reform coalition is embracing a new border security amendment they say should assuage any lingering concerns that border enforcement will take a back seat to legalization or leave America open to further illegal immigration.
The amendment from Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., was released Thursday evening. The lawmakers and press reports indicate the language calls for a major increase in border security agents and completion of the border fence along with other technological upgrades included in the original bill. They also say these provisions must be completed before any green cards are issued to current illegal aliens.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., told WND the provisions appeal to him, but the priorities of the legislation haven't changed.
"The first thing that still happens under the amendment is a big amnesty, a big legalization, then the enforcement comes after," Vitter said. "That's a fundamental problem with the bill, and this amendment wouldn't change that in any way."
Vitter said another major problem is the assumption that implementing these provisions will actually secure the border.
"The amendment talks about what you would call inputs or spending money. What the Gang of Eight completely rejected is any test of results, any metric, any test like we have 80 percent border security, we have 90 percent border security. So they absolutely rejected any real measurement of results," Vitter explained. "Washington knows how to spend lots of money, particularly the Obama administration, but it often doesn't get results. It's never gotten results in this area. Results are what matter."
Vitter admits the amendment may be enough to clinch victory for the bill in the Senate, and he said Republicans are evenly split on the issue. He said if the vote were held today, the plan would likely pass. But he stresses that public response might make a difference. The senator said lawmakers need to hear this bill will not solve America's immigration problems.
"I don't think this fixes the bill. I want to fix the bill and fix the problem, not just have some political exercise," he said.
Vitter is sponsoring a number of amendments to the Gang of Eight bill. In addition to his efforts to make border security the top priority of the bill, he also wants stronger language against legalizing anyone convicted of a crime against women and children.
"This is an example of a bigger problem, in my opinion, with the bill. The Gang of Eight made various promises and put out various principles. One was that folks involved in any sort of serious crime don't get an amnesty and are actually deported. The problem is when you look at details of the bill, these promises don't pan out including this one," said Vitter, who explained that the current language of the bill would allow perpetrators of domestic violence and child abuse to stay in the country.
"We're simply adding those crimes under the Violence Against Women Act as disqualifiers for making folks legal and as requirements when somebody commits that crime that they be deported," Vitter said.
The senator said he would still vote against the final bill even if this amendment were approved.