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 RubioCruz ends presidential campaign Jindal says he'd vote for Trump Carson releases Nevada delegates MORE (R-Fla.), John McCainJohn McCainFive takeaways from the Indiana primary Overnight Energy: Clinton takes on former coal industry CEO The Trail 2016: Indiana gets ugly on GOP judgment day MORE (R-Ariz.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamGraham: GOP has 'lost its way' on Trump Troops question rules for ISIS medal The beginning of the end for Ted Cruz MORE (R-S.C.), Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeMany Republicans uninterested in being Trump’s VP: report Senate confirms Obama's long-stalled ambassador to Mexico McCain fundraiser faces felony drug charges in Arizona MORE (R-Ariz.), Charles SchumerCharles SchumerCruz's dad: Trump 'would be worse than Hillary Clinton' With Ryan’s blessing, lawmakers press ahead with tax reform talks Big business will never appease the Left MORE (D-N.Y.), Dick DurbinDick DurbinLobbying World Judiciary Dems seek hearing on voting rights Elizabeth Warren stumps, raises funds for Duckworth MORE (D-Ill.), Bob MenendezRobert MenendezSenate confirms Obama's long-stalled ambassador to Mexico Democrats block energy spending bill over Iran amendment Senate close to voting on Mexico ambassador MORE (D-N.J.) and Michael BennetMichael BennetReid: Judiciary a 'rubber stamp' for Trump-McConnell GOP Senate candidate wins right to be on Colorado ballot EPA ozone rule looms large in swing state MORE (D-Co.) make up the Gang of Eight.