Vitter Blasts Cornyn’s Border-Security Amendment

by Jonathan Strong

Senator David Vitter, an opponent of the Gang of Eight bill, tells National Review Online he is concerned a border-security amendment from Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas) won’t fix the core problems of the legislation, and worries it could provide “political cover” to Republican senators who want to vote for the bill.

“He’s certainly trying to beef up enforcement, but I fundamentally disagree with where he puts the trigger,” the Louisiana Republican says. “My concern is that that amendment could [allow the bill to pass] but it won’t fix the bill. It could essentially be political cover. I don’t think it will fix the bill because the trigger is not tied to the initial change in legal status. And to me that is the key where any meaningful trigger has to be focused.”

The Cornyn amendment does add teeth to the trigger structure of the bill, requiring the secretary of homeland security to certify that several border-security metrics have been met before newly legalized immigrants can achieve citizenship. To conservative critics, however, the only trigger that would actually incentivize successful border enforcement is one before the initial legalization. Senator Chuck Grassley’s amendment, for example, requires the DHS secretary to certify that “effective control” has been attained over the border for six months before that initial legalization.

Meanwhile, top Democrats are denouncing Cornyn’s amendment in increasingly strident tones. Majority leader Harry Reid has called it a “poison pill,” and Senator Chuck Schumer reportedly said he has ruled it out.

“We cannot accept the Cornyn amendment,” Schumer said at a D.C. event yesterday, according to Talking Points Memo. “I’ve told John that already. The way it would change the triggers would jeopardize the path to citizenship. You should tell the people you’re lobbying that that is not going to happen. There may be other amendments dealing with the border that we can accept but not that one.”

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