The Senate on Tuesday rejected a Republican amendment to the immigration reform bill that would have required the Department of Homeland Security to build 350 miles of new fencing on the Southern border before the federal government could grant provisional legal status to immigrants.
The amendment, proposed by Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, died on a 39-to-54 vote, The Hill reports. The amendment needed 60 votes to pass.
It would have barred the government from granting provisional immigrant status until DHS has constructed 350 miles of border fencing along the Southern U.S. border. Another 350 miles of gating would be required before those with provisional legal status could seek a green card, the Hill reports.
All four GOP members of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators that proposed the immigration bill in April voted against Thune’s amendment. They were Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona; Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; and Marco Rubio of Florida.
Thune said the amendment was critical to enhanced border security, which was not provided under the proposed legislation.
“Every time the Senate considers immigration reform promises of a more secure border are never upheld, and this bill continues to repeat those past mistakes,” Thune said before the vote, according to the Hill. “Some people have said this fence is ‘old-school’ ... but there is an infrastructure role to be played in this.”
McCain told his colleagues to pay more attention to what those on the ground are saying when it comes to border security.
“I hope that my colleagues that are concerned about border security, that they will pay attention to what the head of border security is asking for,” the senator said. “Fencing is important — surveillance is more important.”
The immigration bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with a number of amendments in May. Floor debate is expected to last throughout the month.
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