Grassley's amendment would have required that border security benchmarks be met before immigrants who are in the country illegally can obtain legal status. Key Republican leaders have repeatedly criticized the bill as too lax on border enforcement and demanded more funding for border patrol agents and technology, including drones, before they vote for the bill.
The so-called Gang of Eight bill, now before the full Senate, is considered the most ambitious attempt in decades to overhaul the nation's immigration system. It would increase border and work site enforcement, revamp the current visa system, and create a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants who are illegally in the country.
No one disputes the need for border security, but as The Times’ editorial board has said, setting arbitrary triggers that require an airtight border before allowing millions to legalize makes little sense, and would keep immigrants waiting for far too long before knowing that they could remain in the country.
Thursday’s Senate vote is just the beginning of a long debate this summer.