A bipartisan amendment to boost border security is inside a new version of the immigration reform bill before the U.S. Senate, but Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he still won’t support the bill. Grassley, a Republican, says he wants to see immigration reform, but this new 1,200 page piece of legislation is not the way to accomplish what’s needed.
“This is turning out to be like 1986 all over again,” Grassley says. “I think the Senate is about to make the same mistake. The amendment doesn’t guarantee anything. We’re throwing dollars at a problem without seeing results.”
The legislation passed 27 years ago focused more on employers, forcing them to vouch for employees’ immigration status and made it against the law to hire unauthorized immigrants. It also legalized certain seasonal agricultural illegal immigrants and granted legal status to about three-million people.
The measure now before the Senate would spend $38-billion on border security, including the adding of 350 miles of fence between the U.S. and Mexico and doubling the number of Border Patrol agents to 40,000. Grassley says it’s just throwing money at the problem.
“We weigh too much on input, in other words, dollars spent,” Grassley says. “There’s no metrics to measure the outcome. Not only that, they say you can spend this money, they say the border will be secured if you spend this amount, but it gives the secretary of Homeland Security the authority to not spend the money or to shift the money around.”
Grassley questions how much of the $38-billion proposed in the amendment would even be spent on border security. “We don’t know whether it’s really going to happen,” Grassley says. “We have a secretary of Homeland Security that says the border’s already secured. Think about the sincerity of trying to get her to do exactly like this amendment does, particularly if it gives her an out not to do it.”
Grassley offered several amendments to the immigration bill. Only one was considered and it failed. Grassley says he will not support the bill when it goes to a vote in the Senate, likely later this week.
He adds, he’s more likely to back the measure that’s already passed in the House if something similar emerges from the conference committee.