GOP Sens. Corker, Hoeven Throw Lifeline to Group of Eight

The Corker-Hoeven proposal basically supplants the amendment offered by Cornyn, which carried the support of many lawmakers who sought stricter border security measures in the reform bill but failed to generate sufficient backing to pass. That measure, known as the Requiring Enforcement, Security and safety while Upgrading Lawful Trade and travel Simultaneously (RESULTS) Amendment, would have prohibited undocumented immigrants already in the country from obtaining any sort of legal permanent residency until 98 percent of all illegal crossings are thwarted.

Cornyn immediately questioned the compromise, raising questions about the cost, telling fellow lawmakers that to his “shock and amazement” the Corker-Hoeven amendment adds border agents after being told that the additional agents included in his amendment weren’t necessary.

"My amendment was disparaged by the distinguished senior senator from Arizona and the distinguished senior senator from New York as being a budget buster, 5,000 border patrol. I was told we don't need more boots, we need technology," Cornyn said on the floor. "...How much is it going to cost? That's the question."

Hoeven thanked Cornyn for "a great example of how we built on the foundation you laid."

"You asked for, what was it, 5,000 border patrol agents, and we got 20,000. So this is a great example, and it is all paid for because remember, now this is important," Hoeven continued.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which opposes the legislation, characterized the amendment as “utterly phony.”

“Their proposal would leave the basic, flawed architecture of the bill in place, amnestying the illegal population up front and promising more enforcement in the future,” Krikorian said.

The non-security part of the legislation holds that illegal immigrants who have resided within the nation’s borders since Dec. 13, 2011, must seek provisional legal status, allowing them to work in the U.S. It prohibits those in the country on work visas from collecting any federal benefits. They must pay a penalty, taxes, and a processing fee and can only apply for permanent status after 10 years.

A new visa program for low-skilled workers would also be developed.