The Standing Rules of the Senate are drafted to encourage vigorous public debate on our nation’s most important issues. Indeed, the U.S. Senate is often referred to as “the world’s greatest deliberative body.” The Rules allow any Senator to seek recognition from the Chair at any time and, absent a temporary agreement to the contrary, to speak without interruption so long as he or she wishes. Debating important questions before the Senate is one way a Senator can highlight an issue, advocate for a change in policy, or voice his or her opinion on pending legislation.
Senate debate occurs in public, and is televised on CSPAN and transcribed in the Congressional Record. For your convenience, I post transcripts of my Senate floor speeches on this site for your review. I hope you find them informative and useful. My web site also makes available information on my voting record and legislation that I have sponsored in the Senate.
Sessions Speaks on DREAM Act Flaws
Thursday, December 9, 2010
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Alabama.
Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, I ask to be notified after 4 minutes.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, the military has a very fine program now that allows people legally and illegally in the United States to join the military and put themselves on a pathway to citizenship. The fact is, in this bill, as it is going to work out in reality, 95 percent, probably 98 percent of the people who take advantage of this amnesty that puts them on a guaranteed path to citizenship will do so by claiming they have a high school degree. They can be up to 30 years of age. They claim they have a high school degree and then do 2 years of community college or even correspondence college work. That is where this huge loophole is and that is why we will have 1 to 2 million people who are going to seek protection under this act.
What is this about? The American people understand it. They have tried to tell this Congress, but the Congress and the political leadership refuse to listen. What they are saying is do not continue to reward illegality. Do not continue to provide benefits for people who violated our law, please. The first thing you do is don't reward it. The second thing you want to do is to end the mass illegality that is occurring in our country--600,000 people were arrested last year trying to enter our country illegally at the border--600,000. This is a huge problem.
This administration sued Arizona when it tried to do something about it. They have ended workplace raids that would have identified people who were working illegally and provide Americans an opportunity to have a job. This bill will cost $5 billion according to the CBO. It is not going to pay for itself, and it allows people with two misdemeanors--if you only have two misdemeanors you can apply. Many people, if you know much about the law enforcement system in the country, plead to lesser offenses when they really are guilty of more serious offenses. A lot of these misdemeanors are very serious offenses themselves. They will be given the advantage of this act.
It is not set up for military, it is not set up for valedictorians and salutatorians, it is not set up for people going to Harvard. It is set up for people who have come into the country, can be brought in illegally as a teenager, they go to high school--they have to be accepted. They get a GED or get a high school degree, and they apply and have a safe harbor in our country indefinitely.
I introduced yesterday a chart showing a Google page with a whole long list of places you can order false high school diplomas, false transcripts, false GED certificates. There are no people funded to investigate any of this. People are going to walk in and say: I am 30 years old and I came at age 16. I'm in.
Who is going to go out and investigate that? Nobody is. There is no funding to do it, and there is no plan to do it. It is a major loophole.
But, fundamentally, I would say this Nation will be prepared, as a nation, to wrestle with and try to do the right thing about people who have been here a long time and who came here as a young person. But let me tell you, not until this country brings the lawlessness to an end, that is what the American people have told us unequivocally. They shut down our switchboards with so many phone calls not too long ago when we tried to pass amnesty here. We do not need to do this. Why don't we do the responsible thing?
Finally, let me say this illegality can be ended. It is within our grasp if we have leadership from the top and leadership in the Congress and leadership from the President.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator has consumed his 4 minutes.
Mr. SESSIONS. I thank the Chair. I say we have not had that leadership. What happens 3 years from now when we have another group that has come illegally at age 15 or 16 because they have seen what happens to the ones who came before? Are we then going to say they don't get amnesty? No. We will have lost the moral high ground, the right, responsible effort to have a lawful system in America. We are surrendering to it if we vote for this bill.
I thank the Chair and yield the floor.