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While Scandals Grow, Immigration Bill Coasts Under Radar

“We have to make sure we don’t get overwhelmed by people who want to destroy us,” Gohmert said, citing claims that radical Islamists are traveling to Mexico, blending in by assuming Spanish surnames and entering the U.S, undetected.

“We have an obligation in this country to make sure those who come in want to be a part of the greatest nation,” Gohmert said. “We have to first secure the border so only lawful people come in. Let’s secure the border and then we can work out an immigration package.”

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) said the U.S. can’t afford to open its borders to all comers. As it is, 620,000 to 1.05 million immigrants have been granted American citizenship in each of the past five years. Only those capable of becoming “net tax producers” who “generate more than they consume” should be admitted.

“No one else comes close to being as generous as America is with its citizenship,” Brooks said. “The immigration issue is not about whether America is compassionate and generous -- we are. The immigration issue is about whether America has the financial resources to accept all of the world’s immigrants into America. There are hundreds of millions of foreigners who, if they could, would immigrate to America.”

Brooks also said he “can’t ratify illegal conduct with my vote” by providing those in the country illegally with a path to citizenship.

“American citizens who have elected me to office to the U.S. Congress have done so because I support the rule of law,” he said. “The American citizens I know from all backgrounds – they support the rule of law. And that means you do not sacrifice your principles for political expediency. That’s the wrong direction to go. That undermines what makes America a great country.”

On the other hand, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said a key consideration in negotiations over immigration reform is making sure “that the pathway to citizenship not be a false promise.”

To this point, Leahy said, the committee has worked in a bipartisan way to “resoundingly reject efforts to put up illusive preconditions that would be nothing more than obstacles to that reaching that goal.”

So the committee is moving ahead. In addition to the provision providing legal status to undocumented workers already here, the bill requires employers to implement the E-verify system to detect illegal workers, offers a new visa program for low-skilled workers and calls on the Department of Homeland Security to develop a $4.5 billion plan to gain effective control of the porous Mexican border.

On Tuesday, the committee adopted an amendment from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member who opposes the bill, which requires the Department of Homeland Security to provide the U.S. Border Patrol with information about the status of student visas at all 329 ports of entry.

The provision, adopted unanimously, comes in reaction to information that an alleged accomplice to the Boston Marathon bombers had overstayed his student visa.

Also read: Immigrating to America Is Not an Entitlement