Grassley said the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, introduced by a bipartisan group senators known as the Gang of Eight, puts “legalizes first and enforces later.”
Some Republicans have complained that the legislation would provide amnesty for illegal residents before strengthening border enforcement. Grassley said other senators will likely “get sick” of hearing him talk about the mistakes made in the 1986 comprehensive immigration reform.
“We screwed up because at that time promises were made and those promises were not kept,” Grassley said. “We said it was a one-time fix, just like the Group of Eight says they have a one-time fix. ... In fact, it only made matters worse.”
There are an estimated 11 million undocumented people within the United States, many of which came after the 1986 reforms.
On Tuesday, the Senate will vote on whether to proceed to the immigration reform bill and will continue work on the legislation through June.
"The fact is we need real reform, not gimmicks that fail to fix the problem and secure our border," Grassley said. "The path that we take in the days ahead will shape our country for years to come. It’s my hope that we can find a solution while learning from our mistakes."
Sens. Marco RubioMarco RubioMurphy wins Fla. Senate primary, setting up showdown with Rubio Rubio wins Senate primary The Hill’s 12:30 Report MORE (R-Fla.), John McCainJohn McCainMcCain survives primary challenge The Trail 2016: Drip, drip, drip... The Hill’s 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ariz.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamClinton, Trump sharpen attacks Graham: Let special prosecutor probe Clinton emails The Trail 2016: Clinton’s ups and downs MORE (R-S.C.), Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeTrump haunts McCain's reelection fight Flake advises GOP candidates: 'Distance yourself from Trump' Pence earns GOP raves in first month as Trump VP MORE (R-Ariz.), Charles SchumerCharles SchumerDems' Florida Senate primary nears its bitter end Trump was wrong: Kaine is a liberal in a moderate's clothing Trump poised to betray primary supporters on immigration MORE (D-N.Y.), Dick DurbinDick DurbinTrump poised to betray primary supporters on immigration Dem wants hearing on EpiPen price hikes Legislators privacy fight coincides with FCC complaint MORE (D-Ill.), Bob MenendezRobert MenendezConfirm Julien Neals for the district of New Jersey Puerto Rico task force asks for help in charting island's economic course Tim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense MORE (D-N.J.) and Michael BennetMichael BennetThe Trail 2016: The Battle for Blue Poll: Grassley, Bennet holding off challengers in Iowa, Colorado McAuliffe: I wouldn't want a 'caretaker' in Kaine's Senate seat MORE (D-Co.) make up the Gang of Eight.