McCain defends border security provisions within Gang of Eight bill

On Tuesday, the Senate voted 84-15 to proceed to debating the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. The Senate will continue to work on the bill throughout June.

The bipartisan Gang of Eight senators introduced S. 744, which would create a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living illegally in the country, toughen border security, create a guest worker program and boost high-skilled immigration.

Some Republicans have complained that the legislation would provide amnesty for the nearly 11 million illegal immigrants before strengthening border enforcement. 

McCain pointed out that there is more than $6 billion appropriated in the bill to be used for new technology to help secure the border. 

The bill also makes permanent legal residence contingent the Department of Homeland Security having in place a way to monitor every segment of the southern border and a 90 percent apprehension rate of people trying to cross illegally. But some Republicans have suggested that the bill gives the DHS too much say over whether the border is secure, leaving Congress powerless to stop the citizenship program if security measures aren’t met.

McCain said that some amendments offered by his GOP colleagues would not work and shouldn’t be supported. Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Conservatives backing Trump keep focus on Supreme Court More Senate Republicans pressure Treasury over debt-equity rules MORE (R-Texas) has introduced the “Results” amendment, which would bar anyone from starting a path to citizenship until border enforcement standards are in full effect, among other things.

“The fact is we can get this border secured and the answer my friends in the Cornyn amendment that we hire 10,000 more border patrol agents is not really an answer,” McCain said. “We need technology. We need to have more drones and sensors on the ground.”

Senate leaders are negotiating amendment votes, which will likely start this week.

In addition to McCain, Sens. Marco RubioMarco RubioMcCain: Accepting election results is 'American way' The Trail 2016: The grand finale Rubio: If elected, I plan to serve full Senate term MORE (R-Fla.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamNYC mayor: Trump sounds like ‘a third-world dictator’ Five takeaways from final debate Trump sparks furor at final debate MORE (R-S.C.), Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeFive takeaways from final debate Trump sparks furor at final debate GOP senators slam Trump for refusing to say he'll honor election results MORE (R- Ariz.), Charles SchumerCharles SchumerGOP leaders advise members to proceed with caution on Trump Senate Dems demand answers from Wells Fargo over treatment of military Election-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables 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.), Robert 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 BennetSenate poll raises Republican hopes in Pennsylvania, Florida Podesta floated Bill Gates, Bloomberg as possible Clinton VPs GOP Senate candidate reverses course, says he’ll vote Trump MORE (D-Colo.) make up the Gang of Eight.