Senators on Tuesday rejected building the 700 miles of double-tier border fencing Congress authorized just seven years ago, with a majority of the Senate saying they didn’t want to delay granting illegal immigrants legal status while the fence was being built.
The 54-39 vote to reject the fence shows the core of the immigration deal is holding. The vote broke mostly along party lines, though five Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio and the rest of the bill’s authors, voted against the fence, and two Democrats voted for it.
Republicans had offered the fence as a way to build the confidence of voters skeptical that the government will enforce its laws, but opponents said building more fencing is costly, would take too long, and shouldn’t be dictated by Washington.
“I think we should leave that to the best judgment of the Border Patrol,” said Sen. John McCain, one of the eight senators who wrote the immigration bill.
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