Dan Coats, one of 32 Senators who did not vote for the immigration overhaul measure that passed the Senate on Thursday, says his chief complaint is that the bill does not require stricter border measures to be fully in place before a path to citizenship begins.
However, he says he does support a path to citizenship.
“You know, we have to deal with 11 million people that are here and it’s impossible to send everybody back,” Coats says.
House Republican leadership has said it will not hear the Senate bill, focusing instead on a House measure that puts border security implementation as its top priority. Coats says Senate leaders will have to make border security their top priority too.
“I think they’ll be hearing from people back home that, ‘Yeah, you know, I just don’t know if I can trust what Washington says they’re going to do because you’ve failed to do it so many times,’” Coats says. “And so I think, in the end, people will recognize if we’re going to have sensible reform, that’s got to be the first thing done.”
Senator Joe Donnelly, who voted for the bill, agrees that border security must be the top priority. He says starting a path to citizenship after border measures are only underway and not complete is acceptable because that path to citizenship takes more than ten years to finish.