The Senate is expected to vote on a motion to proceed to the immigration reform bill on Tuesday afternoon and continue work on the bill throughout most of June.
“Like the president's healthcare law, the gang bill was negotiated in secret by insiders and special interests, who then essentially offered it to Congress as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition,” Lee said.
S. 744 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. The bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last month on a bipartisan 13-5 vote.
Some Republicans have complained that the legislation would provide amnesty for illegal residents before strengthening border enforcement. Lee said the Senate should follow the example of the House and pass smaller reforms separately rather than one large bill.
“The bill that will come to the Senate floor next week is essentially the same huge, complex, unpredictable, expensive and special-interest driven, big government boondoggle it was when it first came to the committee,” Lee said. “The bill does not secure the border. It doesn't build a fence. It doesn't create a workable biometric entry-exit system. What standards and benchmarks it does set, the bill simultaneously grants the secretary of Homeland Security broad discretion to waive.”
Lee said he’d prefer to pass legislation securing the border and fixing the current immigration system before granting amnesty to the estimated 11 million people residing in the United States illegally.
Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) comprise the Gang of Eight.