Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a newly elected Republican with a penchant for making headlines, filed an amendment that would bar undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States from ever earning citizenship.
There are an estimated 11 million people living in the country illegally, and a bipartisan immigration reform measure would create a pathway to citizenship over the course of 13 years by requiring those people to pay penalties and back taxes, as well as learn English. Conservatives opposed to reform decry the path as amnesty, but Democrats say they will not support reform that does not cope with the immigrants already living in the U.S.
Cruz also filed amendments that he says would "strengthen border security measures; reform the high-skilled temporary worker program; modernize, streamline and expand legal immigration; and prohibit federal, state or local entitlement benefits for those here illegally."
"The amendments filed today to strengthen border security and reform our legal immigration system will not only bring meaningful, effective improvements to our immigration system, but also have a chance of becoming law," said Cruz in a press release. "America is a nation of immigrants, built by immigrants and we need to honor that heritage by fixing our broken immigration system, while upholding the rule of law and championing legal immigration."
Cruz isn't the only one throwing potential poison pills into the mix. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., filed a measure that would grant immigration rights to same-sex couples. If adopted, that amendment would erode Republican support for the carefully crafted compromise. And while it's highly unlikely the Democratically-controlled committee would adopt Cruz's controversial amendments, Leahy's offering very well could be included.
The committee is set to vote on the amendments Thursday.