By Ramsey Cox
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced late Thursday that the Senate would complete work drafting a GOP border security amendment on Friday.
Reid had been delaying adjournment for the evening in hopes that the GOP border security amendment from Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) would be completed, but he said it was “senseless” to continue work Thursday night.
Instead the Senate will continue work on the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act Friday at 10:30 a.m.
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.
In the underlying bill, an E-verify system and entry-exit system at air and seaports must be in place before anyone is given a green card. The amendment from Hoeven and Corker would also require construction of 700 miles of southern border fencing, the purchase of more than $3 billion in new technology for border security, and the hiring of 20,000 more border patrol agents mandatory before green cards are issued. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would have 10 years to implement those requirements.
Republicans had complained that the original bill made too many “promises” that were dependant on the DHS drafting a plan. With the Corker-Hoeven amendment, certain border security measures must be included in the DHS border security plan.
The Senate considered only 12 amendments to the comprehensive bill, most of which were GOP amendments aimed at ensuring border security measures occurred before any immigrants were granted legal status — those failed.
The Senate is expected to pass the immigration bill next week. Reid has said the bill needs to be complete before the July 4th recess.