Lee said that the Senate should follow the example of the House of Representatives and pass immigration reform in a piecemeal process because it’s the only process that “makes sense.”
On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed a motion to end debate on proceeding to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. That vote is expected next Tuesday.
The bipartisan group of eight senators, known as the Gang of Eight, introduced S. 744, which would create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country, toughen border security, create a guest worker program and boost high-skilled immigration.
Lee and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) used the first day of floor debate on the bill to point out its flaws Friday.
Lee said that if the Senate took a “step-by-step approach” the bill would be less controversial. He said Congress should first deal with border enforcement, second fix the immigration system for qualified workers, and then help those illegally in the country gain citizenship.
“A step-by-step approach would also allow Congress to make progress on areas where both Republicans and Democrats agree,” Lee said. “The only reason immigration reform is controversial is that Congress will not take a step-by-step approach. … There is no good reason by which we must — or even that we should — try to do this all in one bill.”