McConnell: Without 'trigger' I can't support immigration reform

McConnell said the Gang of Eight bill failed to learn from mistakes made in the 1986 immigration reform. He said the legislation doesn’t do enough to secure the border before granting legal status to the 11 million illegal immigrants.

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“If you can’t be reasonably certain that the border is secure as a condition of legalization, there’s just no way to be sure that millions more won’t follow the illegal immigrants who are already here,” McConnell said.

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 69-29 to adopt a “border security surge” amendment to address some Republican concerns on border security.

Crafted by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.), the border security plan authorizes increasing the number of border patrol agents by 20,000 and constructing 700 miles of fencing. Those border security measures would have to be met within 10 years in order for immigrants to apply for green cards.

Critics have said that those are still just “promises” since people would be granted provisional legal status. But Corker argues his additions would create five border security triggers.

Later Thursday, the Senate will vote to end debate on the immigration reform bill, S. 744. Unless a deal is reached to hold a vote on final passage sooner, the vote will be Friday afternoon.