WASHINGTON — Oklahoma's senators said Tuesday that they oppose the immigration bill now before the Senate because it won't guarantee secure borders.
Sens. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, and Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, said the legislation allows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to determine when the borders are secure enough to trigger a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.
“The Department of Homeland Security has already proven itself incapable of properly securing the border, and the arbitrary triggers in this proposal allow the administration to certify that the borders are secure without any oversight from Congress,” Inhofe said.
A sweeping bill to reform immigration laws easily cleared two procedural hurdles on Tuesday, and the Senate is expected to spend weeks on amendments and debate. Inhofe voted twice against advancing the bill, while Coburn supported one of the motions and did not vote on the other.
At the White House, President Barack Obama urged Congress to approve the bill and said his administration has worked “to patch up some of the worst cracks in the system.”
He said, “We made border security a top priority. Today, we have twice as many border patrol agents as we did in 2004. We have more boots on the ground along our southern border than at any time in our history. And in part, by using technology more effectively, illegal crossings are near their lowest level in decades.”
Coburn said the border security system is “dysfunctional” and that the Homeland Security Department shouldn't be able to certify it as secure.