The House Homeland Security Committee approved a $10 billion border security bill Wednesday, but it is already under attack by conservatives who say it could be the first step toward giving legal status to undocumented immigrants.
The dispute underscores how difficult it will be for the new, Republican-led Congress to shape immigration policy when Republicans cannot agree among themselves — let alone with Democrats — on how to achieve their main goal of securing the U.S.-Mexican border.
Republicans in Congress have repeatedly said the United States must secure its southern border before they will consider any legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for any of the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, won an 18-12 party-line vote from the panel to pass his Secure the Borders First Act. The bill, which McCaul described as the toughest border security bill ever before Congress, would send $10 billion worth of manpower and equipment to the borders. An identical bill was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday by Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, John Cornyn of Texas and Jeff Flake of Arizona.