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Amnesty Mark-up: Senator Sessions Lists Failures of Senate Bill to Make Good on Enforcement
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May 10, 2013, 04:05 AM
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Following is Senator Sessions’ opening statement listing the lofty promises made about tough enforcement in the Gang of Eight bill, with its lack of actual means to create that lawfulness.

One problem: I wish the Senator didn’t feel the need to begin his statement with a pledge of allegiance to the institution of legal immigration, which many patriotic restrictionists routinely do. Isn’t America full yet? Still not diverse enough? Here in California, we are both overly crowded and diverse, and the state has become a dystopian basket case as a result.

That quibble aside, rest of the statement is a suitably dreadful inventory of Senatorial bad faith. Sessions called the bill “dangerous” in an interview with Breitbart a couple days ago, remarking, “It was written by experts who know what they’re doing. It was not written by the Gang of Eight themselves. But they have blessed special interests to write and develop and approve each one of those provisions and sections that impact their interest area.”

As a result, the legislation is profoundly opposed to the well-being of the American people, from flooding the employment market during a jobs depression to worsening the threat of international terror attacks.

Sessions’ Opening Statement At Judiciary Committee Immigration Mark-Up, Thursday, May 9, 2013

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, delivered an opening statement today as the Judiciary Committee began marking up the Gang of Eight immigration bill. A text of Sessions’ prepared remarks follow:

“First, what do Americans really believe about immigration? We believe in it. Our current law provides for the yearly lawful admission of over one million persons. More than any nation in the world. We are proud of that—of being a nation of immigrants. But, almost as many have entered the country unlawfully, causing serious concerns. Americans are rightly not happy about that.

This is the situation. The people of this country are good and decent. They understand and have compassion for those who come here, even if illegally. But, they have pleaded with, urged, and sometimes even demanded that their government end the lawlessness, and for the creation of a lawful system, a rational system, that admits not too few and not too many. A rational system that serves the national interests. One with clear rules where the rules are enforced. I certainly support that kind of reform.

Wrestling with these issues is what we are here about today. While the sponsors of the legislation say their bill meets these goals, it does not. It was crafted in secret, essentially, by a series of interest groups. Too little concern was expressed for the impact this huge increase in immigration would have on struggling American workers and families. With high unemployment, anemic job growth, and with unprecedented number of workers who have given up and dropped out of the labor force, we must be focusing more on getting jobs for lawful immigrants and Americans. Wages are not even keeping up with inflation.

And, we should be hearing in depth from those sheriffs, police, and immigration officers who can tell us how to end the illegality.

I would ask unanimous consent to offer into the record a letter sent to Congress today from law enforcement officials across the country—including ICE officers—expressing their concerns over this legislation.

The sponsors told us there would be enforcement first. This legislation provides immediate amnesty and actually weakens enforcement requirements already on the books.

We were told there would be a border fence. There is no fencing requirement in the bill.

Critically, we were told there would be biometric entry and exit system as the 9/11 Commission called for and as Congress has required. This legislation undermines that requirement.

We were told there would be strict requirements for amnesty. But the amnesty is immediate and is open to those with multiple misdemeanor convictions, gang affiliations, and long criminal records—all without a guarantee of future enforcement.

We were told there would be the toughest security measures in history. But the border security provisions actually weaken current law, changing “one hundred percent operational control” to “effective control” of only three of nine border sectors, and currently collapsed interior enforcement is further gutted. Removal or denials of entry can be waived for reasons as vague as “hardship” or “the public interest”—in effect, codifying the unlawful abuse of discretion the Administration is now using.

We were told illegal immigrants would not be eligible for public benefits. But many will become eligible for all benefits in as soon as five years. These costs have been calculated to total trillions of dollars in the long term.

Finally, we were told that this legislation would shift us to a merit-based immigration system and responsibly manage future flow. In truth, this proposal would drastically increase total immigration—including a large increase in low-skill immigration. Over 10 years, we estimate 30 million immigrants will be granted legal status inside the United States—far more than the 10 million in current law. Additionally, millions of temporary foreign workers will be introduced into the economy on top of these 30 million. Such large increases will pull down wages and further marginalize the millions of Americans who have been trapped in poverty. Welfare use is at a record high and labor force participation is at a record low. Jobs are and will remain scarce. We need to help these Americans find good jobs and steady pay. As members of the U. S. Civil Rights Commission have warned us, this legislation would push them aside and betray our moral obligation to our own citizens—and to current lawful immigrants living here today.

A chief sponsor of this legislation bluntly said that it can’t pass the House and will struggle to pass the Senate. A little sunshine has exposed its flaws. We should go back to the drawing board—working out a step-by-step, consensus-building approach like the House—and develop reforms that serve the national interest. We work for the American people. It’s their just interests we must serve.”