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John Cornyn on Immigration

Republican Jr Senator (TX)

 


First step is securing our porous border with Mexico

Senator Cornyn believes the immigration debate is about the values that we hold dearest as Texans and as Americans. That includes respect for the rule of law, and Senator Cornyn believes the first step in reforming our broken immigration system is securing our porous border with Mexico. The Department of Homeland Security estimates it apprehends only half of those crossing the border illegally, and other estimates indicate that the reality is far less. Operational border security must be a part of any immigration reform.

But while immigration reform begins at the border, it does not end there. Forty percent of those here illegally first arrived with a lawful visa but never left when it expired. Senator Cornyn believes a biometric entry-exit system should be implemented, and Texas employers must have a rock-solid way of verifying the status of workers they hire.

Source: Vote-USA.org on 2014 Texas Senate incumbents , Oct 25, 2014

More secure documents needed to enforce immigration laws

Noriega and Cornyn sparred over immigration. Both hedged when the debate moderator asked them what they would do if they found out members of a work crew at their homes were in the country illegally. Noriega and Cornyn both said the U.S. immigration system is broken.

Eventually, both said they wouldn’t stand for having undocumented workers at their homes.

“I don’t work for Immigration,” Noriega said, but when pressed said an undocumented worker would need to be deported. After the debate he said, “If it came to my attention that someone was in violation of the law, yes, I would report them.”

Cornyn said more secure documents are needed so immigration laws can be enforced. When asked again after the debate about the hypothetical scenario, he said, “I don’t think it’s appropriate to hire people who are not legally here in the United States and I would look for somebody else to legally do that work.”

Source: 2008 Texas Senate Debate reported in Dallas Morning News , Oct 17, 2008

2007: Pushed to readily deport illegal immigrants

In a May 17, 2007 meeting, Senate supporters of the comprehensive immigration bill were busy trying to hammer out the final details of their "grand bargain" in time for an afternoon press conference. Sen. John Cornyn, who had co-authored a more enforcement-focused immigration bill the year before with Sen. John Kyl, pushed hard to have the final language allow for easier deportation of illegal immigrants. McCain, who had long been a co-architect of reform efforts [but had not been involved due to campaigning], grew impatient, and then snapped.

McCain told Sen. Cornyn, "I think it would expedite things if you would just leave the room, Senator, so we can get along with finishing this up." Sen. Cornyn responded: "Wait a minute. We've been meeting for three months on this in good faith, and now you parachute in here this morning and tell me to leave? I think you're out of line." Sen. McCain responded: "I know what is going on here. I know more about immigration than anybody in this room!"

Source: The Myth of a Maverick, by Matt Welch, p.108 , Oct 9, 2007

Fight crime by securing our borders

Cornyn believes we must secure our borders to keep our country free from terror and to keep drugs out of schools and away from children. He supports giving law enforcement officials the resources to fight drug trafficking in our communities and on the Texas-Mexico border.
Source: 2002 Senate campaign website, www.JohnCornyn.com, “Issues” , Jun 20, 2002

Voted NO on continuing federal funds for declared "sanctuary cities".

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To create a reserve fund to ensure that Federal assistance does not go to sanctuary cities that ignore the immigration laws of the United States and create safe havens for illegal aliens and potential terrorists. This vote is a motion to table the amendment; voting YES would kill the amendment.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO ON TABLING MOTION:Sen. VITTER: There are so-called sanctuary cities which establish as an official policy of their jurisdiction: We are not going to cooperate with Federal immigration enforcement officials. That is wrong. What is more, it is completely contrary to Federal immigration law. My amendment says: We are going to put some consequence to that defiance of Federal law. We are not going to give them COPS funds. We are going to send those funds, instead, to all of those other jurisdictions which abide by Federal law.OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES ON TABLING MOTION:Sen. DURBIN: There are sanctuary cities in about 23 different States across America. What the Vitter amendment will do is to take away the COPS funding from those cities. Police departments will tell you they need the cooperation of everyone to solve crimes and stop crime. If you create fear in the minds of those who are here in an undocumented status that any cooperation with the police will result in their arrest, they will not cooperate and criminals will go free. Let's not use the COPS Program as some sort of threat. If you want to deal with immigration, deal with it responsibly in a comprehensive way. SUPPORTER'S RESPONSE:Sen. VITTER: If folks feel that way, they should come to Congress and change Federal law, not simply defy Federal law. This is another amnesty vote. Are we going to give folks in sanctuary cities amnesty for defying Federal law and refusing to cooperate with Federal immigration officials? LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Motion to Table Agreed to, 58-40

Reference: Bill Table S.Amdt.4309 to S.Con.Res ; vote number 08-S069 on Mar 13, 2008

Voted NO on comprehensive immigration reform.

    Establishes specified benchmarks which must be met before the guest worker and legalization programs may be initiated:
  1. operational control of the border with Mexico;
  2. Border Patrol increases;
  3. border barriers, including vehicle barriers, fencing, radar, and aerial vehicles;
  4. detention capacity for illegal aliens apprehended crossing the US-Mexico border;
  5. workplace enforcement, including an electronic employment verification system; and
  6. Z-visa alien processing.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

If we do not legislate now, we will not legislate later this year when our calendar is crowded with Iraq and appropriations bills. We are then an election year, and it will be pushed over to 2009. Circumstances will not be better then, they will be worse.

A vote against cloture is a vote to kill the bill. A Senator may vote for cloture and then express himself in opposition to the bill by voting against the bill.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

If this bill becomes law, we will see only a 13% reduction in illegal immigration into America, and in the next 20 years we will have another 8.7 million illegals in our country. How can that be reformed? I submit this would be a disaster.

The Congressional telephone systems have shut down because of the mass phone calls Congress is receiving. A decent respect for the views of the American people says let's stop here now. Let's go back to the drawing board and come up with a bill that will work.

The American people get it, and they do have common sense and wisdom on this issue. They know repeating the fundamental mistakes of the 1986 bill, joining a big amnesty with inadequate enforcement, will cause the problem to grow and not diminish. They know promising enforcement after 30 years of broken promises isn't good enough. They know the so-called trigger is a joke because if the trigger is never pulled, the Z visas, the amnesty happens forever.

Reference: McCain-Kennedy Immigration Reform Bill; Bill S.1639 ; vote number 2007-235 on Jun 28, 2007

Voted YES on declaring English as the official language of the US government.

Voting YES would declare English as the national language of the Government of the US. Unless specifically provided by statute, no person would have an entitlement to have the Government of the US communicate or provide materials in any language other than English. If an exception is made with respect to the use of a language other than English, the exception does not create a legal entitlement to additional services in that language. If any form is issued by the Federal Government in a language other than English, the English language version of the form is the sole authority for all legal purposes. Nothing in this amendment shall prohibit the use of a language other than English.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

Right now, the polling shows that 91% of the people in America want English as an official language, and 76% of Hispanics believe English should be an official language.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

I believe the American people understand in order to succeed in our society, immigrants need to learn English. But the amendment would do a number of things that are problematical. The first is that it is contrary to the provisions of law that exist in many States. For example, in New Mexico, you have in their State Constitution, a provision that says that many of the documents within that State have to be provided in both English and Spanish. The same thing is true for the State of Hawaii. I believe this is a States rights issue, and those constitutions of those States ought to be respected. I do not believe it is a matter we ought to be imposing here from Washington DC.

Also, this amendment would undo an executive order conceived by President Bill Clinton and implemented by President George Bush. Both recognized it is important that people who have limited English proficiency receive the kinds of services so they can understand what is going on in terms of the interface between the Government and themselves.

Reference: National Language Amendment Act; Bill S.Amdt.1151 to S.1348 ; vote number 2007-198 on Jun 6, 2007

Voted NO on eliminating the "Y" nonimmigrant guestworker program.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

This legislation says we wish to add something called guest workers or temporary workers. With guest workers, working Americans would discover there is no opportunity for upward mobility at their job. In fact, every day their employers are trying to find ways to push down wages, eliminate retirement, and eliminate health care. What has happened in this country, with what is called the "new global economy," is dramatic downward pressure on income for American workers. The guest worker program provides that 400,000 people will be able to come in to assume jobs in our country per year--adding to the 12 million illegal immigrants already here.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

I certainly concur about the need to secure our borders, about the need to have a workable immigration system, and the need for reform that ensures the rule of law is restored in the US. Where I differ is in the belief that we can actually achieve these goals if we have no ability for temporary workers to come to the country. This amendment would eliminate the temporary worker program from this bill.

Now, there are several reasons why a temporary worker program, within certain constraints, is a good idea. The first reason is because it will help to relieve the magnet for illegal immigration. The reason most of the people are crossing our border illegally is to get employment. There are jobs available for them. Some people say this is work Americans will not do. That is actually not true. But there are not enough American citizens to do all of the work that needs to be done. So naturally the law of supply and demand sets in here. People come across the border illegally, and they take that work. What we want to do is both close the border, but also eliminate the magnet for illegal employment here, because the reality is desperate people will always try to find some way to get into the country.

Reference: Dorgan Amendment; Bill S.Amdt.1153 on S.1348 ; vote number 2007-174 on May 22, 2007

Voted YES on building a fence along the Mexican border.

Within 18 months, achieves operational control over U.S. land and maritime borders, including:
  1. systematic border surveillance through more effective use of personnel and technology; and
  2. physical infrastructure enhancements to prevent unlawful border entry
Defines "operational control" as the prevention of all unlawful U.S. entries, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, narcotics, and other contraband.

Proponents support voting YES because:

It is obvious there is no more defining issue in our Nation today than stopping illegal immigration. The most basic obligation of any government is to secure the Nation's borders. One issue in which there appears to be a consensus between the Senate and the House is on the issue of building a secure fence. So rather than wait until comprehensive legislation is enacted, we should move forward on targeted legislation which is effective and meaningful. The legislation today provides over 700 miles of Within 18 months, achieves operational control over U.S. land and maritime borders, including:

  1. systematic border surveillance through more effective use of personnel and technology; and
  2. physical infrastructure enhancements to prevent unlawful border entry
Defines "operational control" as the prevention of all unlawful U.S. entries, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, narcotics, and other contraband.

Proponents support voting YES because:

It is obvious there is no more defining issue in our Nation today than stopping illegal immigration. The most basic obligation of any government is to secure the Nation's borders. One issue in which there appears to be a consensus between the Senate and the House is on the issue of building a secure fence. So rather than wait until comprehensive legislation is enacted, we should move forward on targeted legislation which is effective and meaningful. The legislation today provides over 700 miles of

Reference: Secure Fence Act; Bill H R 6061 ; vote number 2006-262 on Sep 29, 2006

Voted NO on establishing a Guest Worker program.

Reference: Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act; Bill S. 2611 ; vote number 2006-157 on May 25, 2006

Voted NO on allowing illegal aliens to participate in Social Security.

Voting YEA would table (kill) the proposed amendment to prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving Social Security benefits. Voting NAY supports that prohibition, while voting YEA supports immigrants participating in Social Security. Text of amendment:
To reduce document fraud, prevent identity theft, and preserve the integrity of the Social Security system, by ensuring that persons who receive an adjustment of status under this bill are not able to receive Social Security benefits as a result of unlawful activity.
Reference: Preclusion of Social Security Credits; Bill S.Amdt.3985 to S.2611 ; vote number 2006-130 on May 18, 2006

Voted NO on giving Guest Workers a path to citizenship.

This amendment to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act would prohibit H-2C nonimmigrants ("Guest Workers") from adjusting to lawful permanent resident status. Voting YEA on the motion to table (which would kill the amendment) indicates supporting a path to citizenship for guest workers. Voting NAY on the motion indicates opposing any path to citizenship. The amendment says:
Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, an alien having nonimmigrant status is ineligible for and may not apply for adjustment of status.''
Reference: Kyl Amendment to Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act; Bill S.Amdt.3969 to S.2611 ; vote number 2006-135 on May 18, 2006

Rated 75% by USBC, indicating a sealed-border stance.

Cornyn scores 75% by USBC on immigration issues

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 USBC scores as follows:

About USBC (from their website, www.usbc.org):

U.S. Border Control, founded in 1988, is a non-profit, tax-exempt, citizen's lobby. USBC is dedicated to ending illegal immigration by securing our nation's borders and reforming our immigration policies. USBC [works with] Congressmen to stop amnesty; seal our borders against terrorism and illegal immigration; and, preserve our nation's language, culture and American way of life for future generations.

Our organization accepts no financial support from any branch of government. All our support comes from concerned citizens who appreciate the work we are doing to seal our borders against drugs, disease, illegal migration and terrorism and wish to preserve our nation's language, culture and heritage for the next generations.

Source: USBC website 06n-USBC on Dec 31, 2006

Increase limitations for H-1B, H-2B, and L-visas.

Cornyn introduced increasing limitations for H-1B, H-2B, and L-visas

A bill to provide emergency relief for United States businesses and industries currently employing temporary foreign workers and for other purposes. The Global Competitiveness Act of 2008 -

Source: Global Competitiveness Act (S.2839) 08-S2839 on Apr 10, 2008

ICE performs vital functions that protect American families.

Cornyn signed Press release from 19 Senators on Resolution to Support ICE

Nineteen U.S. Senators introduced a resolution denouncing the radical calls for the dissolution of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

ICE performs vital functions that protect American families. Last year, agents worked tirelessly around the clock to rescue 1,422 victims of human trafficking. More than 900 of those victims were children. ICE agents also removed a million pounds of narcotics and more than 4,800 gang members from the streets of this country. Those numbers are just a small fraction of the nearly 127,000 arrests made by ICE agents last year against people who came here and committed violent crimes against law-abiding Americans. Those criminals were responsible for more than 50,000 assaults, 2,000 kidnappings and 1,800 homicides.

"I am deeply troubled by the Democrats' reckless calls to abolish ICE. Eliminating ICE shows a blatant disregard for the welfare of the American people and our nation's immigration laws," said Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-LA). "With the ever present threat of MS-13 and international terrorism, along with an opioid crisis being fought at our border, abolishing ICE is unthinkable. ICE officers are in the trenches fighting those threats and protecting American families from the cross-border crime and illegal immigration that endanger our families. ICE deserves our gratitude and respect, not scorn and ridicule."

"Washington Democrats wanting to abolish ICE, our country's immigration law enforcement agency, are essentially demanding open borders," said Sen. Cassidy (R-LA). "Assaults on ICE officers nearly tripled in 2017, so instead of attacking them, we should support them as they work to secure our borders, stop the flow of deadly drugs, break up violent gangs like MS-13, rescue human trafficking victims, and keep our communities safe."

Source: Press release from 19 Senators on Resolution to Support ICE 18LTR-ICE on Jul 12, 2018

Support national emergency at the Southern border.

Cornyn voted NAY Joint Resolution on Proclamation 9844

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives: That the national emergency declared by the finding of the President on February 15, 2019, in Proclamation 9844 is hereby terminated.

Proclamation 9844 issued by the president on Feb. 15, 2019: Declares a state of national emergency at the southern border to address the issues of illegal immigration and criminal trafficking into the US: "The current situation at the southern border presents a border security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency. The southern border is a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics. The problem of large-scale unlawful migration through the southern border is long-standing, and despite the executive branch's exercise of existing statutory authorities, the situation has worsened in certain respects in recent years. Because of the gravity of the current emergency situation, it is necessary for the Armed Forces to provide additional support to address the crisis."

Opposing the Proclamation (supporting the Resolution), ACLU press release, 2/15/2019 The ACLU issued the following statement upon filing a lawsuit: "By the president's very own admission in the Rose Garden, there is no national emergency. He just grew impatient and frustrated with Congress, and decided to move along his promise for a border wall 'faster.' This is a patently illegal power grab that hurts American communities and flouts the checks and balances that are hallmarks of our democracy."

Legislative outcome Passed House 245-182-5 roll #94 on Feb. 26; pass Senate 59-41 roll #49 on March 14; Vetoed by Pres. Trump; veto override failed, 248-181-3 (2/3 required), roll #127 on March 26

Source: Congressional vote 19-HJR46 on Feb 26, 2019

Increase both high-skill and family-based visa caps.

Cornyn co-sponsored the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act

Legislative Summary:This bill increases the per-country cap on family-based immigrant visas from 7% of the total number of such visas available that year to 15%, and eliminates the 7% cap for employment-based immigrant visas. It also removes an offset that reduced the number of visas for individuals from China. The bill also establishes transition rules for employment-based visas from FY2020-FY2022, by reserving a percentage of EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability), EB-3 (skilled and other workers), and EB-5 (investors) visas for individuals not from the two countries with the largest number of recipients of such visas. Of the unreserved visas, not more than 85% shall be allotted to immigrants from any single country.

Explanation from the Countable.US: Under the current immigration system, immigrants from any one country can claim no more than 7% of the 140,000 employment-based green cards issued annually to foreign nationals working in the U.S. This significantly disadvantages immigrants from larger countries that more immigrants come from.

For example, China (population 1.3 billion) and India have large backlogs of workers wishing to immigrate to and work in the U.S., but they have the name visa caps as countries such as Iceland or Estonia (population 1.3 million), which have both much smaller populations and far fewer citizens seeking to immigrate to the U.S.

The net effect of this is that immigrants from India and China can face decades-long waits, averaging 2-3 times the wait times for immigrants from other countries, for green cards, and many have to return home because they can't get permanent residency; meanwhile, countries such as Iceland and Estonia never come close to reaching their visa limit caps.

Legislative outcome Roll call 437 in House on 7/10/2019 passed 365-65-2; referred to Committee in Senate 7/9/2019; no action as of 1/1/2020.

Source: S.386/H.R.1044 19-HR1044 on Feb 7, 2019

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