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 RubioObama plans 'aggressive' blitz for Clinton in campaign's final days One way or another, 2016 was all about Donald Trump's hands Poll: Clinton has 4-point lead over Trump in Florida MORE (R-Fla.), John McCainJohn McCainDemocrats pounce on Cruz's Supreme Court comments Obama's right to tackle redistricting, but it won't be easy Flake gets early 2018 primary challenger MORE (R-Ariz.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamTrump on primary rivals who don't back him: 'I don't know how they live with themselves' The Trail 2016: Who is really winning? Graham: GOP Senate could rein in Clinton White House MORE (R-S.C.), Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeDemocrats pounce on Cruz's Supreme Court comments Flake gets early 2018 primary challenger Report: Investor visa program mainly funds wealthy areas MORE (R-Ariz.), Charles SchumerCharles SchumerChasing away scalpers only hurts consumers Reid: 'I have set the Senate' for nuclear option Immigration was barely covered in the debates MORE (D-N.Y.), Dick DurbinDick DurbinGreat Lakes senators seek boost for maritime system Wikileaks: Durbin pushed unknown Warren for Obama bank regulator The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Ill.), Bob MenendezRobert MenendezWarren, Menendez question shakeup at Wells Fargo Democrats press Wells Fargo CEO for more answers on scandal Dem senator: Louisiana Republican 'found Jesus' on flood funding MORE (D-N.J.) and Michael BennetMichael BennetCruz: Precedent exists for keeping Supreme Court short-staffed Senate poll raises Republican hopes in Pennsylvania, Florida Podesta floated Bill Gates, Bloomberg as possible Clinton VPs MORE (D-Co.) make up the Gang of Eight.