President Trump’s plan for a border wall will be sidelined and the Gang of Eight bill is coming back, if Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., has anything to say about it.
In an interview with The Arizona Republic Thursday, McCain said that he and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. are in agreement about bringing back the bipartisan amnesty legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
"Basically it's what we passed last time, brought up to date with the new challenges, like opioids," McCain said. "It's still there. We got 68 votes, I think, the last time. I don't think that's going to be any different next time."
In 2013, McCain and Schumer, along with six other senators including Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Michael Benet, D-Colo., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., worked together to craft a bill that would have granted amnesty to 11.5 million illegal immigrants, cost taxpayers trillions of dollars, and failed to reduce illegal immigration.
It is unclear why Sen. McCain thinks amnesty legislation will go anywhere under President Trump’s administration. The president dismissed the Gang of Eight bill as “amnesty” back in February, and when asked specifically if the president opposes the bill, press secretary Sean Spicer affirmed “yes.” Signing such a bill would break several of President Trump’s key promises to the American people, including creating a physical barrier on the southern border to reduce illegal immigration.
Senator McCain is skeptical of President Trump’s approach to border security, saying a border wall won’t stop illegal immigration.
"I'm not against a border wall, OK, but go to China and you'll see a border wall there," McCain said. "We need technology, we need drones, we need surveillance capabilities and we need rapid-reaction capabilities. ... But to think that a wall is going to stop illegal immigration or drugs is crazy."
It’s true that the border wall alone will not stop illegal immigration altogether — most illegal immigrants enter legally and then overstay their visas — but the fact of the matter is that border fences work to reduce illegal immigration, and the Gang of Eight bill Sen. McCain supports had no provision requiring the construction of a border fence. Instead, the Gang of Eight legislation required DHS to submit to Congress a “strategy” for fencing: recommendations without physical construction. Toothless.
The philosophy of the Gang of Eight bill was “amnesty first, we’ll worry about border security later.” In Washington, D.C., “later” means “never.”
The Gang of Eight amnesty bill was killed in the House of Representatives after conservative backlash demonstrated the grassroots will not tolerate the pro-illegal-immigration, open-borders consensus of the D.C. establishment.
Yet Senator McCain remains a thorn in the side of conservatives, pleading for amnesty while Congress considers the RAISE Act, a true conservative immigration reform bill supported by President Trump.