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Sessions Issues Closing Committee Remarks In Opposition To Gang Of Eight Proposal
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement tonight, submitted for the Committee record, in opposition to the Gang of Eight legislation:
“During the course of this markup, we have conclusively established that this legislation fails to live up to every major promise of its sponsors. Ironically, the only promise the sponsors of this legislation have kept is their promise to block any attempts to improve the proposal. As a result, we are left with legislation that is fundamentally unchanged and fatally flawed. It will not become law.
First, on security: The core promise from this bill’s sponsors was that it would be enforcement first. But, we now know it is legalization first. And the future enforcement provisions actually represent a weakening of laws previously enacted by Congress. For instance:
This legislation requires no fencing and my amendment to build the fencing Congress has previously required was rejected.
Congress has passed numerous requirements, for 17 years, to create a biometric exit/entry system at all air, sea, and land ports. In its current form, this legislation undermines that law and ignores the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.
Amendments offered by Republicans to put enforcement first were all rejected.
Currently, our interior enforcement system has been devastated by the Administration’s lawless directives preventing ICE officers from doing their jobs. I want you to hear what the ICE Council President Chris Crane said in Congressional testimony:
“Morale is at an all-time low as criminal aliens are released to the streets and ICE instead takes disciplinary actions against its own officers for making lawful arrests… It appears clear that federal law enforcement officers are the enemy and not those who break our nation’s laws.”
The ICE Council, and sheriffs across the nation, have written to Congress warning that this bill would be “a significant barrier to the creation of a safe and lawful system of immigration.” The letter also notes: “Congress can and must take decisive steps to limit the discretion of political appointees and empower ICE and CBP to perform their respective missions and enforce the laws enacted by Congress. Rather than limiting the power of those political appointees within DHS, S. 744 provides them with nearly unlimited discretion, which will serve only to further cripple the law enforcement missions of these agencies.”
A second immigration enforcement union—United States Citizenship and Immigration Services—has also come out against the bill, warning: “like the ICE Council, the USCIS Council was not consulted in the crafting of the Gang of Eight’s legislation. Instead, the legislation was written with special interests—producing a bill that makes the current system worse, not better. S. 744 will damage public safety and national security and should be opposed by lawmakers.” The statement goes on to detail alarming abuses occurring within USCIS that must be investigated by lawmakers. According to the union, these abuses threaten public safety and security and are worsened by this legislation.
What about the cost to taxpayers? Along with Ranking Member Grassley and Senator Roberts, I sent a detailed request for long-term cost estimates to the Gang of Eight. No such estimates have been provided. According to the nation’s leading welfare expert—Robert Rector—it will add $6.3 trillion to our long-term debt.
What about the promise that illegal aliens would not be eligible for federal benefits? In just the last 24 hours, this committee has rejected three amendments—including two I offered—to prevent illegal aliens from getting means-tested financial assistance.
Finally, and most importantly, I would like to talk about the impact on American workers. Sponsors of this legislation have said it will not significantly increase total immigration levels. But we have conclusively demonstrated that this bill would legalize 30 million immigrants over 10 years and provide legal status to many millions more temporary workers. This will be a hammer blow to the wages and employment opportunities of American workers—both immigrant and native born. As U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Peter Kirsanow writes: “the bill will wreak enormous damage to the employment prospects of American workers who have already seen their wages and employment rates plummet over the last several years.”
This bill is bad for workers, bad for taxpayers and—as immigration officers have pleaded for us to hear—a threat to public safety and the rule of law. It serves the special interests at the expense of the national interest. Therefore, I must oppose.”
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