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 CruzBrietbart CEO reveals that Trump donors are part owners At CPAC, Trump lashes out at media Conquering Trump returns to conservative summit MORE (Texas), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGOP senator grilled over DeVos vote during town hall Big Pharma must address high drug prices ­ObamaCare fix hinges on Medicaid clash in Senate MORE (Iowa), Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsDem 2020 hopefuls lead pack in opposing Trump Cabinet picks Five tough questions for Trump on immigration Issa: Sessions should recuse himself from any Russia probes MORE (Ala.) and Mike LeeMike LeeLessons from the godfather of regulatory budgeting Congress must reform civil asset forfeiture laws A guide to the committees: Senate 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 CornynCornyn: Border wall 'makes absolutely no sense' in some areas Ryan on border: ‘We will get this done’ Ryan tours Mexican border on horseback 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 GrahamThe Hill's 12:30 Report Back to the future: Congress should look to past for Fintech going forward CNN to host town hall featuring John McCain, Lindsey Graham MORE (R-S.C.) and Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeFCC's GOP chairman blocks Internet privacy rule Greens launch ads against two GOP senators for Pruitt votes GOP groups ramp up pressure on lawmakers over ObamaCare 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 CoonsSenate advances Trump's Commerce pick Senate Dems move to nix Trump's deportation order Senate Dem: Trump will hurt Gorsuch's confirmation by undermining judiciary 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 BlumenthalLast chance to improve Afghanistan’s fledgling Air Force? Poll: Senate should confirm Gorsuch A guide to the committees: Senate 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.