S.C. House members cooler - but not stone cold - on immigration reform
South Carolina’s two U.S. senators were split on the immigration reform bill that passed last week, and the state’s congressmen are even less excited about it.
Still, there’s time for the House to pass its own version of an immigration bill, said Republican U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, whose 5th District seat covers Rock Hill and the Upstate.
“You’ll see something eventually. It may end up having more teeth in it when it comes to border security. It may focus a little more on legal immigration,” he said.
The Senate measure was supported by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of the so-called “Gang of Eight” that helped write the bill.
Republican U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of North Charleston voted no. In a statement, he said the proposal would not secure the border.
“I believe we can and should tackle immigration reform with targeted, responsible efforts that secure the border, enforce existing laws, and create a workable, efficient system for future immigrants,” he added. “I am hopeful that we will arrive at a more focused final product that fixes our immigration challenges and finally addresses the realities along our border.”
First District Republican Rep. Mark Sanford of Charleston, also said he had problems with the bill, particularly that it does not guarantee that adequate southern border protections will become a reality.
“If you do this, does the enforcement effort ever come?” he asked during a phone interview.
Sanford also questioned “why is it that a (border) fence is so impossible?”
Democrat 6th District Rep. Jim Clyburn issued a statement showing optimism at what was passed.
“While the Senate bill is not ideal, it is a bipartisan compromise that I could support,” he said. “I hope the House will also work across party lines to pass a bipartisan comprehensive bill that the Senate and the president can support.”
Mulvaney said South Carolina farms and tourism businesses have a large demand for legal migrant workers, adding that “we don’t have a large illegal immigrant group in South Carolina.”
Mulvaney said he would vote against the Senate bill for two reasons. First, he questions if its call for increased border security will work. “It’s not just what the bill says, but what teeth does the bill have? It’s my understanding the bill doesn’t have any teeth at all.”
Also, he said it includes some unrelated spending, including $100 million for Las Vegas advertising.
Republican 3rd District Rep. Jeff Duncan, who represents the western part of the state, said the bill does far more harm than good.
“The Senate’s proposal requires that lawmakers and citizens alike trust Washington to do its job after years of broken promises, yet does nothing to first earn that trust,” he said in a statement.
Duncan noted most of the 11 million in this country illegally came through legal means, and he doesn’t see how the Senate’s bill would prevent that from continuing to happen. “Washington is facing a deficit of trust with the American people, and rightfully so,” he said. “This reason alone is enough to oppose this bill.”
Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of the Upstate’s 4th District, called the Senate bill “an opening bid,” and that the House will work to produce its own legislative offering.