Senate passage of the Schumer-Rubio immigration bill is looking like far less of a sure thing after Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Senate Democrats voted down an amendment yesterday that would have secured the border first before granting illegal immigrants citizenship.
For those paying attention to the immigration debate, the legalization-first-border-security-later structure of the Schumer-Rubio bill has never been in question. Just last Sunday, Rubio told Univision, “Let’s be clear. Nobody is talking about preventing the legalization. The legalization is going to happen. … First comes the legalization. Then come the measures to secure the border.”
A fiction exposed
But many conservative defenders of Rubio were under the impression the order was the other way around. Yesterday’s security-first amendment, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, exposed that fiction. Rubio was then forced to make-up a brand new argument for why legalization must come first, telling radio host Andrea Tantaros that the federal government needed the fines from amnestied immigrants in order to pay for border security.
“If we don’t get that fine money from the people that have violated our immigration laws, then the American taxpayer is going to have to pay for border security,” Rubio said. Rubio failed to explain if American taxpayers would therefore also require new waves of illegal immigrants to pay for border security in the future.
Votes still needed
Rubio’s excuses aside, yesterday’s vote also showed that support for Schumer-Rubio’s final passage is far lower than the 80-plus votes the bill received on the motion to proceed to debate. Forty-three Senators voted for the Grassley amendment yesterday, including two Democrats: Sens. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Joe Manchin, D-W.V.
That means Rubio and his Democratic allies are still three votes short of the 60 they need for final passage. And the search for them was going so badly yesterday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., halted debate and sent everyone home for the weekend.
That’s not a good sign for Schumer-Rubio proponents.
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