Sen. Deb Fischer said Tuesday proposed immigration reform legislation needs "serious revisions," including removal of a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who are illegally settled in the United States.
Sen. Mike Johanns said he wanted immigration policy to "prioritize immigrants seeking to legally gain American citizenship over those who broke the law."
Both Nebraska Republicans voted to allow debate on the legislation to begin, but both said they would not support the bill in its current form.
The legislation crafted by a bipartisan collection of eight senators has "serious flaws," Fischer said, requiring "a number of needed conservative amendments, which would be necessary to secure my support for the legislation."
In addition to wiping out the pathway to citizenship, Fischer said she wanted to "protect hardworking taxpayers from paying for new government programs and benefits for illegal immigrants."
Fischer also called for "measurable standards (and) necessary resources to secure the border" along with a provision to "defend American workers and provide necessary labor for growing economic sectors."
"Nebraskans know the status quo is unacceptable," Fischer said.
"Our border remains dangerously insecure, and 11 million illegal immigrants currently enjoy de facto amnesty."
Johanns said the pending legislation "would have to undergo significant changes before I could support it."
Immigration policy needs to "significantly and measurably improve border security," he said, enforce workplace eligibility requirements and prohibit tax refunds for illegal immigrants in excess of taxes paid.
Both Fischer and Johanns voted with the majority in an 82-15 decision to proceed with consideration of the legislation. All 15 no votes were cast by Republicans.