The U.S. Senate tossed a provision in the Gang of Eight’s controversial attempt at bipartisan-backed immigration reform, voting 54-39 against a measure that would have mandated the construction of a 700-mile long border fence physically separating the U.S. from Mexico.
The vote largely ran along party lines, although Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and four other Republicans conspicuously voted to preserve the spirit of the Gang of Eight’s original plan, which never called for completion of the border fence, by voting against the add-on.
Rubio has been roundly criticized by fellow Republicans and some conservatives for backing a bill they believe is far too permissive of illegal immigration as a path to U.S. citizenship through amnesty. Senator Jeff Session (R-Ala.) goaded Rubio’s pro-immigration reform TV ads Tuesday by implying he’s not the conservative whom Florida voters elected to the Senate in 2010.
“He is the one that’s in everybody’s homes running the ads,” said Sessions. “Makes you want to say ‘Marco, there’s somebody on the television pretending to be you, saying vote for the bill that you recently said shouldn’t pass in its current form.’”
The idea of a border fence isn’t new to Congress. It passed the Secure Fence Act in 2006, and the law was signed by President George W. Bush that same year. It was partially constructed, with the biggest span running from San Diego, Calif., to Yuma, Ariz., but has remained unfinished after the Department of Homeland Security either ran out of or stopped spending the non-earmarked fund it receives from Congress to enforce border security. Finishing the fence project could cost $6.5 billion per year on a 20-year construction cycle, well above the paltry $2.4 billion that’s been spent so far.