Political Notebook

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Coats votes against border security proposal

Indiana’s U.S. senators split their votes Wednesday on an amendment to the immigration bill that would improve security along the country’s border with Mexico.

Democrat Joe Donnelly voted in favor of the amendment, which passed 69-29, while Republican Dan Coats voted against it.

Coats said this week in Fort Wayne that he would oppose any immigration legislation that allows immigration applications to be processed before the effectiveness of border security measures are verified by the Department of Homeland Security. He repeated that stance Wednesday in a floor speech in the Senate.

Verification “has to come first before people are ready to trust” the legislation, Coats said in remarks broadcast by C-SPAN.

“The real issue here has been whether or not … we are able to prove to the American people that they’re going to get the results before we start a process that moves people through a legalization process which we know we’re never going to be able to pull back.”

The amendment would build more fence at the U.S.-Mexico border, add Border Patrol agents and surveillance tools, track temporary visas and improve employer verification of the immigration status of their workers.

All those provisions would boost border security “if the promises come true,” Coats said.

But the absence of a system to first gauge whether the provisions are working is the “one major fatal flaw” of the legislation, Coats said.