U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte's support for the Gang of 8 immigration bill, which passed the Senate 68-32 on Thursday, was disappointing enough. Worse were her statements that it would secure the border and fix our immigration system, which it will not do. She is going to have to work really hard to regain the trust of the Republican base, which had high expectations after her impressive performance regarding the Senate gun-control legislation.
Ayotte co-sponsored the Corker-Hoeven amendment that added a vast new border security section to the immigration bill. It would add about 20,000 U.S. Border Patrol agents, doubling the current number, add 350 miles of border fence (that is already supposed to exist) and spend billions on technological surveillance devices. So, border secured, right?
No. The head of the ICE Council, the union for more than 7,000 Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents, strongly opposed the new bill, its president saying: "The 1,200-page substitute bill before the Senate will provide instant legalization and a path to citizenship to gang members and other dangerous criminal aliens, and handcuff ICE officers from enforcing immigration laws in the future. It provides no means of effectively enforcing visa overstays, which account for almost half of the nation's illegal immigration crisis."
There was a Senate amendment that would require certification of border security before the "path to citizenship" could begin. It was voted down. The new bill throws billions at border agents and equipment, but it still instantly grants provisional legal status to all illegals already here. Supposedly those immigrants could not get a green card until the border security provisions are completed, but who cares about a green card if one already has legal status?
Contrary to the assertions of Sens. Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen, this legislation does not secure the border or solve the problem of illegal immigration. The Congressional Budget Office concluded that it would slow illegal immigration by only 25 percent. So we will spend $30 billion, add 20,000 new unionized federal employees and grant legal status to 11 million border-jumpers, all so illegal immigration can continue at 75 percent of its current level instead of 100 percent.
In addition, the 1,200-page bill is an earmark-filled monstrosity that will hurt the employment prospects of young American citizens, depress wages at both the top and bottom of the wage scale, and create millions of new Democratic voters (which is why it got 100 percent of the Democratic vote in the Senate). Not only is the policy bad, but so are the politics.
Ayotte blew it on this one. And her prior performance was so strong, too.