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 CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea GOP state lawmakers meet to plan possible constitutional convention MORE (Texas), Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley: 'Good chance' Senate panel will consider bills to protect Mueller Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea GOP state lawmakers meet to plan possible constitutional convention MORE (Iowa), Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRhode Island announces plan to pay DACA renewal fee for every 'Dreamer' in state Mich. Senate candidate opts for House run instead NAACP sues Trump for ending DACA MORE (Ala.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea 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 CornynNew GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Week ahead: Senators near deal to stabilize ObamaCare markets GOP eying 'blue slip' break to help Trump fill the courts 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 Olin GrahamTop Louisiana health official rips Cassidy over ObamaCare repeal bill Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE (R-S.C.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCorker pressed as reelection challenges mount -trillion debt puts US fiscal house on very shaky ground Senate votes down Paul's bid to revoke war authorizations 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 CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsRaising awareness about maternal health worldwide on National Bump Day Senate plans hearing for bills to protect Mueller Entering a new era of African investment MORE (D-Del.) that would prohibit border patrol agents from returning illegal entrants to Mexico during nighttime hours; an amendment sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (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.