Sen. Sessions: Immigration Reform Bill 'Will Not Withstand Public Scrutiny'
Ranking Senate Budget Committee member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said in a Thursday evening statement provided to Breitbart News that the political posturing of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” immigration group, along with Senate Democratic leadership, and their plan to rush forthcoming legislation through the U.S. Senate as fast as they can is a sign the bill will not hold up in the face of public scrutiny.
“While the Gang has not briefed lawmakers or the judiciary committee about their plan, they have leaked selected details to the press which seem to confirm Senator Schumer’s recent declaration that ‘First, people will be legalized… Then, we will make sure the border is secure,’” Sessions said in the statement.
Based on what has been leaked, and current ICE directives, it could become nearly impossible for ICE officers to distinguish between those illegal immigrants eligible for legal status and those ineligible for legal status – including future illegal immigrants who will simply assert they are amnesty-eligible. It is likely millions of current and future illegal immigrants who are not administrative "priorities" will benefit from this amnesty regardless of whether they meet the Gang’s criteria. That is why it is so essential that these enforcement issues be worked out first.
“This is also why it is so troubling that Chairman Leahy has rejected the GOP request for multiple hearings and that members of the Gang of 8 have publicly announced their intention to oppose any amendments,” Sessions added. “To proceed along these lines is tantamount to an admission that the bill is not workable and will not withstand public scrutiny.”
The details that Sen. Sessions cites as troubling include:
- Instead of securing the border first, it merely requires DHS to submit a plan (within 6 months) to achieve modest enforcement goals at some point in the next 10 years in exchange for an immediate grant of amnesty. History tells us the enforcement part will never effectively happen.
- Even the border security’s future targets are weak: the plan only requires DHS to state what resources DHS needs in order to apprehend 90% of those illegal immigrants the border patrol sees – but not those who successfully evade border patrol altogether.
- Increased security is called for only in certain areas of the southwest border, leaving huge vulnerabilities to cartels and other illegal immigrants.
- There is no requirement to complete the 700 miles of double-layered border fence that Congress has previously mandated (less than 40 miles of which have been completed).
- Interior enforcement components are also delayed until after the amnesty occurs, including a 5-year delay in the implementation of E-Verify.
- The plan calls for an “electronic” exit system to track visa overstays at air and sea ports. However, Congress has required – through a 17-year old mandate that has been ignored – that the exit system must be biometric and be implemented at all ports of entry, including the largest port – our land borders. GAO has said that without this biometric exit system, DHS cannot track visa overstays.
- The plan’s guest worker program as described is not temporary; it will allow for one million foreign workers to enter the country each year and eventually apply for green cards and citizenship.
In a report published late on Wednesday, Politico unveiled that at least three of the four Republicans in the Gang of Eight plan to stick with the rest of the gang to block amendments and keep the agreement the eight senators reach behind closed doors intact as it is forced through the Congress.
"Most members of the group are prepared to band together, defeating one by one any controversial amendment that can upset the deal’s balance," Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown and Manu Raju wrote.
“That’s what gangs do," Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, a Gang of Eight member, said.
Flake's fellow Arizona Republican and Gang of Eight member Sen. John McCain agreed. "Generally speaking, we expect everybody to stick to the agreement that we made," McCain said.
“We’re going to be open-minded to ways to make it better, but if there are things out there that clearly would kill it, I hope we’ll stick together,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), another Gang of Eight member, said.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has remained largely quiet on whether or not he plans to stick with the Gang of Eight to block amendments to the legislation. Rubio says he supports an open and transparent immigration reform process, and has called for multiple hearings on the forthcoming legislation so lawmakers and the public can thoroughly examine each and every facet of it.
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Pat Leahy, though, has only agreed to one hearing. It is scheduled for next Wednesday afternoon, even though the legislation has still not been introduced; its only scheduled witness thus far is Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.