The Senate on Wednesday voted 61–37 to table an amendment to the immigration-reform bill that would have significantly strengthened the bill’s border-security and enforcement requirements. The so-called Trust but Verify amendment, offered by Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.), would have given Congress, and not the Department of Homeland Security, the ultimate authority to determine if the border is effectively secure. It also included enhanced security measures, such as requiring a double-layer fence to be completed within five years, as well as a number of other triggers that must be implemented before illegal immigrants could be awarded legal status. “We desperately need immigration reform—but part of fixing the system is fixing our broken borders,” Paul said before the vote.
Gang of Eight member (and Paul’s potential primary opponent in 2016) Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) joined every Democrat and six other Republicans to defeat the amendement. A similar coalition of Senators has helped defeat a number of attempts to strengthen the border-security measures in the bill, and to ensure that those measures must be implemented before legal status is granted. Prior to the vote, Paul appeared to take a subtle dig at Rubio and other Republicans supporting the bill.
“Recently, the authors of this bill made clear that legalization will not be made contingent on border security,” he said. “Most conservatives believe just the opposite: That legalization absolutely must depend on securing the border first. ’Trust but Verify’ does exactly that. It makes documentation of undocumented workers contingent on border security.”