The Senate Judiciary Committee completed its markup of the Gang of Eight's amnesty bill, S.744, this evening, approving the bill 13-to-5. Three Republicans, including Gang of Eight members Senators Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham along with Sen. Orrin Hatch voted with the Democratic majority. While the Committee did approve several bipartisan amendments, all amendments to increase the enforcement provisions or reduce the future flow of legal immigration were rejected.
The Gang of Eight was able to win the support of Sen. Hatch in the final hours of the markup after agreeing to accept a package of his amendments. The amendments removed many of the safeguards for American tech workers in the bill, giving tech companies more flexibility when applying for H-1B visas.
In the final day, the Committee rejected an attempt from Sen. Ted Cruz that would prevent illegal aliens from receiving green cards and a number of amendments from Republicans that would have prevented amnesited illegal aliens from receiving welfare beneifts while in Registered Provisional Immigrant Status. The Gang of Eight remained unified throughout the five days of markups in defeating most amendments.
"Ironically, the only promise the sponsors of this legislation have kept is their promise to block any attempts to improve the proposal," Sen. Jeff Sessions said. "As a result, we are left with legislation that is fundamentally unchanged and fatally flawed. It will not become law... Amendments offered by Republicans to put enforcement first were all rejected...
"A second immigration enforcement union--United States Citizenship and Immigration Services--has also come out against the bill, warning: "like the ICE Council, the USCIS Council was not consulted in the crafting of the Gang of Eight's legislation...
"What about the promise that illegal aliens would not be eligible for federal benefits? In just the last 24 hours, this committee has rejected three amendments--including two I offered--to prevent illegal aliens from getting means-tested financial assistance."
The bill will now move the Senate floor for debate. The timing of the floor debate and vote are still uncertain.
Updated: Tue, May 21st 2013 @ 10:35pm EDT