Senate Chairman Urges Rewrite Of House Border Bill

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is urging GOP leaders in the House of Representatives to shelve a border security bill until it can be upgraded to block President Barack Obama’s catch-and-release immigration policies.

“Thanks to house of Rep not moving ahead w Border Security bill,” said a Jan. 27 tweet from Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the new GOP chairman of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee.

The House bill would “not secure border. Now House has time to marry that w Judiciary bill,” said the tweet, which marks a rare public intervention by a Republican senator in GOP House debates. Interventions are routine, but are usually kept behind closed doors.

The House bill is being pushed by Texas Rep. Mike McCaul, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

It would add 48 miles of double-layer fencing to the 36 miles of double-layer fencing now along the 2,000-mile border and calls for improved technological surveillance of the border and a better visa tracking system, and for more active duty officers and agents on the border. But McCaul’s bill would delay an already-mandated computer system to track the arrival and departure of legal visitors and would do nothing to stop President Barack Obama’s catch-and-release policy for many border-crossers.

McCaul’s bill was slated for passage on Wednesday, but has been delayed amid opposition from GOP legislators.

The Democratic caucus has loudly slammed the bill.

The threat of a defeat may have prompted the House leadership to delay debate on the McCaul bill.

Aides to GOP leaders say the McCaul bill was delayed because of the snowstorm in the Northeast, and because Democrats are having a conference on Thursday and Friday.

“Unfortunately, the bill was delayed due to weather,” McCaul spokeswoman April Ward told The Daily Caller Jan. 26. “I don’t have any further information right now. I’ll keep you updated moving forward.”

Critics say McCaul’s bill won’t reverse Obama’s rollback of immigration enforcement laws, and it may be used to by the Senate as an excuse to discard a January House bill that choked off funding for Obama’s unilateral effort to award work permits to five million illegal immigrants.

In 2014, Obama directed his deputies to release more than 120,000 low-skilled Central American adults, youths and children into the United States, where they can apply for asylum, attend schools and compete for jobs. Current data suggests another surge of Central American migrants will hit the borders in March.

In press statements, McCaul said his border bill can’t deal with Obama’s catch-and-release policy because it is an immigration issue. Instead, said McCaul, the GOP will respond to the policy with a bill from the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Bob Goodlatte.

Grassley’s tweet prods the GOP leaders in the House to pass a upgraded bill that would boost border security and curb Obama’s catch-and-release policies.

His intervention in the House debate is unusual, because senators and legislators usually avoid commenting publicly on activities in the other side of the Capitol.

However, last week, McCaul and Goodlatte visited Sen. Jeff Sessions to seek his support for the McCaul bill. Sessions is the new chairman of Grassely’s immigration subcommittee, and has repeatedly argued that Americans and the GOP would gain if the nation reduced the annual inflow of one million immigrants.

Currently, four million young Americans begin to look for work each year, in the face of competition from millions of unemployed Americans, plus new immigrants and a population of roughly two million guest workers.

In November 2014, one in every five U.S. jobs was held by a foreign-born worker, up from one-in-six jobs in January 2010, according to federal data highlighted by the Center for Immigration Studies.

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