News Column

Rand Paul Poo-poos' Immigration Reform

June 24, 2013

Immigration reform will likely easily pass the Senate but is doomed in the House, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said ahead of a key Senate vote on the bill Monday.

"It will pass the Senate, but it's dead on arrival in the House," Paul told CNN's "State of the Union."

"The House is much closer to me, and I think they think border security has to come first before you get immigration reform," said Paul, a member of the Tea Party movement who describes himself as a "constitutional conservative" and a libertarian.

He said he remained opposed to the Senate bill, and said the House agree with him, despite a hard-fought border-security deal hammered out by Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota that Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said would "almost militarize the border" by creating a "border surge" with double the border control force.

The Corker-Hoeven amendment would double the U.S. Border Patrol force to 40,000 agents and complete 700 miles of new border fencing, up from 350 miles lawmakers originally considered.

The additional border guards and fencing would cost roughly $25 billion, senators said.

The amendment also calls for a $3.2 billion high-tech border surveillance plan.

The plan includes drone aircraft, infrared ground sensors and long-range thermal imaging cameras. It would also require both an electronic employment verification program for all employers and a visa entry and exit system at all airports and seaports to limit immigrants who overstay their visas.

The amendment provides "more manpower, more fencing, more technology," Hoeven said Thursday.

Most senators say this strengthened border security is enough to sway a key number of Republicans earlier reluctant to support the broader immigration overhaul that includes a pathway to citizenship for 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, a charter member of the Senate Tea Party Caucus and one of the Senate's most conservative Republicans, told "Fox News Sunday" the amended bill was "likely to pass" with up to 70 votes.

But he said his vote would not be among the nearly 70.

"Look, we all want immigration reform. But this bill is not the right vehicle for getting there," he told Fox.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., scheduled a vote for 5:30 p.m. Monday to end debate on the amended immigration measure.

The vote is expected to follow further consideration of the bill beginning at noon, the Senate floor schedule says.

If the Senate votes to end debate, the chamber will likely have a final vote on the bill by Friday, Reid said.

"We're going to add immigration as another example of how to get things done," Reid said.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said at his weekly news conference Thursday an immigration overhaul bill would pass his chamber only if it ensured "our borders are secure" and gave "confidence that those who came here illegally are not given special treatment, confidence that hardworking taxpayers are being respected and confidence that a majority of both parties have had their say and support the final product."

Source: Copyright UPI 2013

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