The CBO estimated that the Gang’s initial legislation would only reduce illegal immigration by 25 percent over the next decade. “It didn’t get the job done on border security and that’s exactly why we’re adding that amendment,” Hoeven said Thursday.
But the CBO report specifically cites interior enforcement as a problem — individuals on temporary work visas who don’t leave when they’re supposed to, and aren’t properly accounted for. But the Corker-Hoeven amendment appears to do little to address this problem. It would establish a low-tech, biographic entry-exit verification system, as opposed to the advanced, biometric system that was approved (but never implemented) in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks.
It also calls for a pilot program “to explore the feasibility and effectiveness of notifying individuals who have traveled to the United States from a foreign nation that the terms of their admission to the United States are about to expire.” Chris Crane, who heads the union representing more than 7,500 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, has warned that the amendment “appears to completely neglect interior enforcement.”
The Gang of Eight opponents who predicted the events of the past several days say they plan to continue to fight against the bill, even if the final outcome is all but certain. In particular, conservative senators will attempt to identify and block political kickbacks that may have been inserted into the final draft of the bill in an effort to win votes. “We don’t do earmarks anymore, so that’s how we do things around here,” says a conservative GOP aide.
Some are concerned that Democrats, including President Obama, are less interested in passing immigration reform than they are using it as an issue to retake the House in 2014.
“The Obama administration is fighting a battle to lose,” Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) said on Thursday. “I think their conduct indicates that that’s in fact their desired #outcome…#to have the bill voted down in the House by insisting on provisions the House of Representatives is never going to adopt.”
“Schumer wants to make this as unpalatable as possible for Republicans in the House, so that they kill immigration reform,” the GOP aide says. “He wants it fail. This is about Democrats getting the House back in 2014 and doing everything they couldn’t get done in Obama’s first two years” when Democrats held a supermajority in Congress.
— Andrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online.