Hoeven expects border security agreement to be released today

A border security deal crafted by two Senate Republicans with the authors of the Senate immigration bill will be released soon, Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said Friday.

In an interview on Fox, Hoeven said the release of the legislation was being delayed by Democratic demands that illegal immigrants be allowed to receive certain government benefits while transitioning to legal status. 

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“Our focus on this bill is strengthening the border. But there are other issues going on as well,” Hoeven said in an interview with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on Fox.

“For example, illegal immigrants in RPI status, this provisional status, don’t get benefits, and we’ve taken a tough line on that and we are getting pushback from the other side, and we are saying no. And so that is one of these items that is still being held up,” Hoeven said.

RPI refers to registered provisional immigrant status, something illegal immigrants could qualify for under the bill as they transition to possible citizenship.

However, Hoeven said he expected the debate would not prevent the border security language from being released soon, and a spokesman for the senator said other issues were close to being resolved. 

It’s possible Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will file cloture Friday on the Corker-Hoeven language — and on the underlying immigration bill.

Reid wants to finish work on immigration by the end of next week, when the Senate will go on recess.

A number of Republicans have called for limits to be placed on benefits given to immigrants in provisional status. 

Hoeven and Corker on Thursday said they had reached a deal on their border security language being added to the bill. 

The measure would double the number of border control officers patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border and also double the length of fencing along the border.

Hoeven and Corker have predicted the security enhancements will win significant support for the bill.

“Anyone who criticizes this bill because of border security, in my opinion, is just looking for a reason to criticize the bill,” Corker added in the interview.

A strong vote in the Senate would put more pressure on the House to act on immigration reform, Senate supporters of the bill argue. Many House Republicans have voiced opposition to the Senate bill, and it faces an unclear path in the lower chamber.

With the support of Corker and Hoeven, it is thought the Senate bill will be in striking distance of winning at least 70 votes.