Schumer-Rubio Bill Mark-Up Produces Few Improvements

By Jessica M. Vaughan on May 10, 2013

Yesterday the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to adopt 22 amendments to the Schumer-Rubio bill, none of which fundamentally improves the bill, and a few that make it worse.

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The most significant amendments sought to force meaningful improvements and metrics for border security and enforcement before implementing the amnesty. Various versions were offered by Republican Sens. Grassley (IA), Sessions (AL), Cornyn (TX), Lee (UT), and Cruz (TX); all were rejected by Democrats and two of their Republican Gang of Eight buddies, Graham (SC) and Flake (AZ).

Notable among the 22 amendments adopted:

  • From Sen. Leahy (D-VT) — a provision to forbid the U.S. government from imposing border crossing fees, a proposal that even the Obama administration supports. Currently, there is no charge to cross, despite the enormous cost of maintaining huge ports of entry to process millions of people and vehicles a day, and some very small crossing points that serve just a few people. (Adopted by voice vote.)

  • From Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) — a guarantee that sanctuary jurisdictions will continue to be subsidized by the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, even if they refuse to allow ICE access to offenders in their jails. (Adopted 10-8.)

  • From Sen. Hirono (D-HI) — a ludicrous measure that will force all border enforcement agencies to ask all apprehended aliens if they are a parent or are traveling with their children, and to ascertain if that person's removal or repatriation would present any safety or humanitarian concerns. In addition, officers of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and all agencies that cooperate with it will have to undergo special periodic and continuing training to make such determinations and consider whether removal is in the best interests of the alien's children. So, presumably, if an alien is apprehended by the Border Patrol, it could conceivably be determined that it might be too dangerous to return them to, say, Nuevo Laredo, Ciudad Juarez, or Matamoros, or even their own home town, even though the parent made the choice to embark on an undeniably perilous illegal border crossing attempt in the first place. It is hard to imagine, under the standards of this administration, what foreign place might be safe enough for children or their parents to be returned to. (Adopted 10-8.)

  • One bright spot, from Sen. Sessions — a provision to require the newly created DHS Ombudsman's Office to attend to the interests of people who are the victims of alien crime and violence in the border region, in addition to the ombudsman's main mission to look out for the interests of people upset by the manner in which immigration laws are enforced by DHS agencies. (Adopted by voice vote.)