The Who's Who of Immigration Policy Making - the Senate Republicans

By David North on September 28, 2009

There are four Republicans, compared to five Democrats, on the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, a subset of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

While the Republicans serving on the comparable body in the House of Representatives, according to the nose counts of Numbers USA, are solidly and consistently in the restrictionist camp, there are some major disputes among the Senate subcommittee Republicans. Two of these Senators get solid A+ ratings from Numbers USA, while the other two -– both from border states -- have recent scores of B+ and C-.

The four Republicans -– who have served together on the subcommittee for close to seven years now –- are Charles Grassley (R-IA), and Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the two with the A ratings, and John Cornyn (R-TX) with a B+, and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) with the C-.

Two of the GOP subcommittee members (Cornyn and Sessions) served as their states' elected attorneys general prior to arriving in the Senate; the other two (Grassley and Kyl) had been members of the House of Representatives.

Cornyn, oddly, is both the ranking Republican on the subcommittee as well as the GOP member with the least seniority. This happened only because each of the other three decided that they were more interested in being the ranking Republican on some other body. Grassley, for example, is the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Finance, and has been prominent all this summer as one of the "gang of six", the three Democrats (led by Max Baucus (D-MT)) and the three Republicans trying to devise a bipartisan approach to health care.

Cornyn, for similar reasons, was the subcommittee chair in the last Congress when the Republicans were in control. He secured his less than A rating from Numbers USA by his votes for more temporary workers, and for supporting at least part of the Bush Administration's provisions for legalization of illegal aliens.

Kyl has voted for some amnesty provisions and programs to increase the number of temporary alien workers, while voting against some border control activities. On the other hand he voted with the restrictionists on visa lottery and refugee issues.

Sometimes the issues become convoluted; for instance, in 2007 Kyl voted on the floor of the Senate against an amendment which would have called for triggering mechanisms that would have meant that it was less likely that an amnesty would actually take place.

Grassley, the only non-lawyer among these Republicans, and Sessions, both have consistent pro-restriction voting records, according to Numbers USA.

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