“And they didn’t catch them,” Ladd said. “That’s every day. That’s what people don’t understand. They say, ‘It can’t be.’ Well, it is. And it’s been going like that for 20 years.”
Lawmakers who oppose the legislation said it didn’t help the United States’ situation.
“We have immigration laws for two reasons. One, to protect our national security. Two, to protect American jobs. The proposal of the Senate Gang of Eight violates both of those principles,” said Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa. “We’ll make our borders less secure, and by offering a pathway to citizenship we encourage millions of people to rush to the United States to benefit from this proposal.”
Promises by the Gang of Eight that enforcement will be tougher were described as hollow and likened to the popular comic character Charlie Brown, who was fooled repeatedly when his friend Lucy promised not to pull away the football as he tried to kick it. She always did.
Rubio, a member of the bipartisan Gang of Eight, did his best to counter such reservations by going on talk shows to counter claims that border security triggers were mere political bravado and lacked muscle.
“That’s false,” Rubio told reporters this week. He then listed several requirements, including the implementation of an entry-exit system that would address 40 percent of those who came legally but overstayed their visas, and an update to universal worker-verification programs that would stop the magnet of jobs, among others.
“These are not goals,” he said. “These are things that must happen before the green card process begins.”
Such talk of requirements that might impede legalization has Latino advocates such as Marielena Hincapie nervous. The executive director of the National Immigration Law Center said there was concern that the federal government wouldn’t be able to implement all these systems within 10 years, creating a large tier of second-class temporary residents who were in legal limbo.
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., assured advocates Wednesday that he wouldn’t have signed the bill if he thought the triggers would impede the path to legalization, attendees said.
But they’re still wary.
“We understand that there have to be these goals in there. That this is part of the negotiation,” Hincapie said. “But the legalization program cannot be contingent on those being secure. We have to see how the bill is written. Hopefully, it is more of a goal rather than a kind of piece that would impede legalization.” Anne-Kathrin Gerstlauer contributed to this report.