POLITICS: PennAve

Dick Durbin says border security no longer linked to citizenship

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Congress,Immigration,House of Representatives,David M. Drucker,PennAve,Dick Durbin

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., has caused a minor stir with comments that the "Gang of Eight" previously decided to "de-link" border security triggers from the pathway to citizenship.

In other words, the comprehensive immigration reform package does not have to ensure that the legislation's border security directives are actually carried out, lest former undocumented immigrant residents, newly legalized, have their path to citizenship delayed until that happens, if it ever does.

Durbin's remarks were reported by National Journal's Fawn Johnson, and were somewhat surprising since linking border security to the path to citizenship is exactly how the four Republicans in the "Gang of Eight" have gone about selling the bill to both conservative activists and their GOP colleagues on Capitol Hill. Durbin is one of four Democrats in the gang.

"We have de-linked the pathway to citizenship and border enforcement. You could be on a path to a million people reaching citizenship and have one bad week on the border, at which point you stop, and that's just unacceptable," Durbin said, according to the National Journal.

So I asked Sen. Lindsey Graham if Durbin's remarks were accurate -- that the "Gang of Eight" decided to delink border enforcement triggers from the path to citizenship. Conservative opponent of the bill view the South Carolina Republican as more likely to bend on this issue than, say, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who along with Arizona Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain comprise the GOP members of the gang.

Graham disputed Durbin's assertion, saying unequivocally that the "Gang of Eight" has made no decision to delink border security triggers from the pathway to citizenship, while warning that doing so could doom the legislation's chances of getting to President Obama's desk. Here are Graham's remarks to The Washington Examiner in regard to this apparent disagreement:

"There are triggers in the bill. That's not accurate. There are four triggers in the bill before the pathway -- e-verify has to be up and running.

"I think what he's talking about is the numbers," Graham added. "If we get 61 or 62 votes, I think the bill has almost no chance of getting through the House -- and that would be a disappointment because I think 70 votes are very much in play without destroying the architecture [of the bill.] I'm not going to go to Sen. Durbin and [Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.] and others and take the architecture and destroy it. But I think there's room to improve on border [security], I think there are a lot of Republicans seriously considering voting for the bill if it can be made better."

ddrucker@washingtonexaminer.com

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