U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today voted against passage of the Senate's immigration reform bill, determining that the legislation will not solve the border security or enforcement problems that now characterize illegal immigration in the United States.
The Senate on Thursday voted (68-32) to approve an immigration reform bill (S.744) that would launch a process to grant legal status to the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants now in the United States. It pledges $46 billion to secure the nation's borders.
"The Senate bill is fundamentally flawed. It represents a headlong rush to offer a path toward citizenship for those here illegally, with more promises that illegal crossings on the Southwest border might finally end. For all its reported benefits, the Congressional Budget Office also reported that it will increase unemployment, suppress wages and only reduce illegal crossings by 25 percent," Cochran said.
"The debate on this legislation has not resulted in changes that would guarantee to the people of my state that America's borders will be truly secured or that illegal entries into our nation will end. I cannot support this bill," he said.
"The United States needs to improve its immigration policies and consistently enforce laws already on the books. I believe our nation would be more secure and better able to enjoy the benefits of welcoming new citizens if the Senate had focused first on securing the border and fixing flaws in legal immigration programs," he said.
During the three-week debate on S.744, Cochran voted against the motion to proceed to the bill and consistently voted against tabling amendments to strengthen border security. The Senator cosponsored amendments to make certain visa programs more efficient and effective. In the end, however, the bill the Senate approved does not contain important reforms related to agriculture worker programs, and it does not fully reform the system employers use to verify the legal status of workers before hiring them.
Cochran has consistently supported increased border security funding as a member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, in addition to supporting guest worker policy improvements that would benefit agriculture, seafood and other industries in Mississippi and the nation. Cochran opposed inadequate immigration reform efforts in 1986 and 2007.