Influential Senate Republicans weigh in against immigration reform measure

Four influential Senate Republicans have sent a letter to colleagues voicing strong opposition to comprehensive immigration legislation headed to the Senate floor, warning it will not secure the nation’s borders.

Sens. Ted CruzTed CruzOvernight Defense: Senators go to White House for North Korea briefing | Admiral takes 'hit' for aircraft carrier mixup | Lawmakers urged to beef up US missile defense Senators get North Korea briefing in unusual WH visit Overnight Tech: FCC chief unveils plan for net neutrality rollback | Tech on Trump's sweeping tax plan | Cruz looks to boost space industry MORE (Texas), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyComey to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee GOP to kill language exempting staff from new ObamaCare repeal bill House cyber chairman wants to bolster workforce MORE (Iowa), Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsSuspended Alabama judge running for Senate Trump and Sessions peddle fear instead of solutions to crime Senate votes to confirm Rosenstein as deputy attorney general MORE (Ala.) and Mike LeeMike LeeTrump signs order to end 'egregious abuse' of national monuments Trump takes aim at Obama monuments Trump should work with Congress to block regulations on prepaid cards MORE (Utah) said in a June 4 letter the immigration bill repeats the mistakes of the 1986 immigration reform law.

“In 1986, the American people were promised that, in exchange for granting legal status to illegal immigrants, the border would be secured and the law enforced. Washington broke these promises,” they wrote. “Unfortunately, the so-called ‘Gang of Eight’ immigration bill, S. 744, repeats these mistakes.”

Cruz is a fast-rising Tea Party star, Grassley is the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Sessions is the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee and Lee is another Tea Party favorite.

The group, all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the panel’s markup of the legislation last month made it worse.

Notably, Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's 12:30 Report Overnight Defense: US moving missile defense system to South Korea | Dems want justification for Syria strike | Army pick pushes back against critics of LGBT record Disconnect: Trump, GOP not on same page MORE (R-Texas), who voted against the bill in Judiciary, did not sign the letter. Some Democrats think he may ultimately support the legislation.

Four members of the Gang of Eight on Judiciary, including Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamComey to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee Overnight Defense: US moving missile defense system to South Korea | Dems want justification for Syria strike | Army pick pushes back against critics of LGBT record Graham: There are 'no good choices left' with North Korea MORE (R-S.C.) and Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeTrudeau, Trump speak for second night about US-Canada trade Trump says he may break up 9th Circuit Court after rulings go against him Trump administration weighing order to withdraw from NAFTA MORE (R-Ariz.), often voted in unison to defeat changes Republicans proposed to strengthen enforcement provisions.

For example, the panel rejected an amendment sponsored by Lee to require illegal immigrants to pay back taxes before receiving legal status; a Grassley amendment to require the implementation of the new employment verification system within 18 months; and another Grassley proposal to require effective control over the southern border for six months before granting legal status to 11 million illegal immigrants.

“The bill’s already serious flaws were exacerbated by the adoption of several amendments that significantly weaken current law, hamstring law enforcement, and further complicate our legal immigration system,” Cruz, Grassley, Sessions and Lee wrote.

They highlighted several amendments approved in committee that they believe would weaken enforcement of immigration law.

They cited an amendment sponsored by Sen. Chris CoonsChris CoonsA Vandenberg movement in Congress Senate approves Trump's Agriculture chief How Gorsuch's confirmation shapes the next Supreme Court battle MORE (D-Del.) that would prohibit border patrol agents from returning illegal entrants to Mexico during nighttime hours; an amendment sponsored by Sen. Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalFCC head unveils plan to roll back net neutrality Senate votes to confirm Rosenstein as deputy attorney general Hoyer not insisting on ObamaCare subsidies in spending bill MORE (D-Conn.) to limit enforcement actions at college campuses and hospitals; and another Coons proposal to give judges more discretion to halt deportations.

Grassley said in an interview Tuesday that he could vote for the bill on the floor, but only if changes were made to strengthen the border provisions and protect American workers.

“We want immigration reform to pass, but only if it actually fixes the broken system, rather than allowing the problems to grow and fester,” he and his colleagues wrote.

--This report was updated at 7:37 p.m.