The Senate voted 82-15 Tuesday to send the immigration bill to the floor for deliberation.
Clearing this “key legislative hurdle” opens the way for members on both sides of the aisle to voice not only their support for wholesale immigration reform, but their opposition, as well.
One Republican senator finds himself straddling the line between wanting to overhaul the current immigration system and preventing changes that would open the border wider to an influx of illegal immigrants and infringe upon civil liberties through the creation of a national ID card.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky., shown) announced late last week that he would propose an amendment to the immigration bill offered by the bipartisan group of senators known as the Gang of Eight.
The Paul amendment makes immigration reform conditional on Congress voting on whether the border is secure, requiring completion of a border fence in five years and a protection against the federal government establishing a national identification card system for citizens.
On May 24 Paul penned an op-ed in the Washington Times advocating an end to calls for a national ID, such as that proposed by the REAL ID Act. Paul wrote:
The controversial immigration-reform bill that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee this week is expected to be considered by the Senate in June. Many see measures contained in this bill, such as a strong E-Verify and a “photo tool,” as a means to control unlawful immigrants’ access to unlawful employment. I worry that they go too far.
I think there are better ideas that err on the side of individual privacy while still strengthening our borders. We should scrap a national identification database and pass immigration reform that secures the border, expands existing work-visa programs and prevents noncitizens from access to welfare. These simple ideas will eliminate the perceived need for an invasive worker-verification system and a government citizenship database.
I am against the idea that American citizens should be forced to carry around a National Identification Card as a condition of citizenship. I worry that the Senate is working to consider a series of little-noticed provisions in comprehensive immigration reform that may provide a pathway to a national ID card for all individuals present in the United States — citizens and noncitizens. These draconian ideas would simply give government too much power.
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Photo of Sen. Rand Paul: AP Images