Democratic Senate candidate Jason Kander said that he would have supported the 2013 "Gang of Eight" immigration plan during Friday’s Missouri Press Association debate.
"We need comprehensive immigration reform. Had I been in the Senate at the time, I would have supported the bipartisan legislation that was put forward by Senator [Marco] Rubio and had that happened, had it passed and made it the distance, we would not be facing the same problems we are facing right now because we desperately need comprehensive immigration reform," Kander said.
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Kander reiterated at the end of his response that he would have supported that "bipartisan effort."
The "Gang of Eight" immigration plan refers to the bipartisan effort of four Republican and four Democratic Senators who wrote the 2013 immigration bill. Despite the bipartisan effort, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the legislation would pave the way for 46 million legal immigrants over the next 20 years. The Daily Caller previously reported that most illegal immigrants would likely get to stay in the United States.
The CBO report also assumes that eight million illegal immigrants of the estimated 11 million illegals will be allowed to stay, but does not include them in the population-growth forecast because they’re already living in the United States.
Together, the current 22 million inflow, plus the new 16 million and the eight million illegals, add up to 46 million new or legalized people for the nation in 20 years.
The unpopular immigration legislation was also criticized because it restricted law enforcement officers from removing immigrants with a criminal history. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council president, Chris Crane, sent a letter to "Gang of Eight" member Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas), not a member of the bipartisan group, criticizing the legislation.
Yet, instead of cracking down on the [Obama] administration’s abuse of power, S. 744 places unprecedented new restrictions on interior enforcement—making the current situation much worse and much more hazardous. It is as if S. 744 were explicitly written to handcuff law enforcement officials—binding their hands while giving virtually unchecked authority to executive branch officials to prevent future removals, including removals of criminal aliens.
Kander is running to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.) in November.
UPDATE 5:02 P.M.: This post was updated to clarify that Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) was never a member of the "Gang of Eight." The original version mistakenly said that he and Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) were both members of the group. The 2013 letter from ICE Council president Chris Crane was addressed to both lawmakers.