Every Senate GOP leader voted against the comprehensive immigration reform bill Thursday.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) and GOP Conference Chairman John Thune (S.D.) all said the bill didn’t ensure the border would be secured before illegal immigrants are given a pathway to citizenship.
“There’s just no way I can look my constituents in the eye and tell them that today’s assurances won’t become tomorrow’s disappointments,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday morning.
Opponents of the bill have repeatedly noted that a previous immigration bill in the 1980s, which also offered a pathway to citizenship, failed on its promise to secure the border.
The current bill includes new funding for border agents and fencing, but critics said the additional expenditures weren’t enough.
“I come here to speak on the pending immigration bill more in disappointment than in anger because of the lost opportunity we had here in the Senate,” Cornyn said. “There is something fundamentally wrong with the idea that if you throw enough money at the problem it will miraculously be solved.”
GOP leaders argued the new bill repeats the mistakes of the last major immigration reform in 1986 by granting “legalization before border security.”
“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.
Conference Vice Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) also voted against the bill, S. 744.