LIVE UPDATE: Immigration Hearing -- Wheels Coming Off 'Gang of 8' Immigration Reform

On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a marathon hearing on immigration reform. Breitbart News will bring you the latest information from inside the Committee and across the news on the issue. Check back for regular updates.

[UPDATE: 16:09 EDT] Sen. Sessions Responds to Sen. Rubio "Fact Check"

From Breitbart News' Matt Boyle inside the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing:

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) accused Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight," for making an inaccurate statement about him via a press release “fact check.”

Last week, Sessions told NewsMax: “We are talking about legislation that will impact virtually every aspect of our society, reshape our entire immigration system, introduce at least 30 million new foreign workers into the economy, and directly impact every single American worker and taxpayer.”

On Saturday, Rubio issued a press release accusing Sessions of peddling a “myth” and Rubio tried to give the “facts” instead.

“Currently one million people legally immigrate to the United States every year – more than any other nation in the world and a key reason our nation, even with a retiring Baby Boomer generation, does not face severe aging demographic problems like Japan, Russia, and much of Europe,” Rubio’s office said. 

“We also currently have about 11 million undocumented people living in the United States who are never leaving because they have families, jobs and roots in our communities. Under our proposal, those living here illegally will be allowed to apply for permanent residence in 10 years once we clear out the current backlog for about 5 million foreigners waiting to legally immigrate to the United States – a long-delayed process this legislation will finally correct. This legislation does not significantly increase long-term, annual migration to the United States, and will dramatically decrease illegal immigration thanks to new border security and immigration enforcement laws. Bottom-line: the size of the future population of the United States will not be significantly impacted by this legislation.”

Rubio did not provide any details to counter Sessions’s estimate.

During Monday’s Senate Judiciary Committee, Sessions shot back at Rubio.

“I believe Senator Rubio issued a fact-check today that said my statement that 30 million people would be legalized is not accurate,” Sessions said. “First, I want to ask all the others who support the bill, what is the number that will be legalized?”

Sessions then counted out loud how he reached 30 million. “Amnesty itself would provide legalization for about 11 million. The backlog is 4.5. According to the Los Angeles Times, the future flow would be 50 percent of all future flow and that would be about 15 million. So, over 10 [years], that’s around 30.”

“Krikorian, you want to comment on that?” Sessions asked Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies.

“Well I haven’t done the numbers. But it makes sense,” Krikorian responded.

“Is anyone promoting numbers?” Sessions asked the entire panel.

None of the pro-Gang of Eight witnesses or the anti-Gang of Eight witnesses spoke.

“I think that’s one of the issues I think people have is getting actual numbers,” Krikorian soon answered.

[UPDATE: 15:49 EDT]

[UPDATE: 15:47 EDT]

[UPDATE: 15:18 EDT] Sen. Grassley: Immigration Bill Contains Loophole for DHS to Ignore Border Security

The latest from Matt Boyle, inside the Senate Judiciary Committee:

Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) questioned the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill, and its apparent transfer of power away from Congress to the Executive Branch. 

“Now I haven’t read every page of this bill yet, but from what I’ve read, I find a great deal of congressional authority delegated to the Secretary,” Grassley said in his opening statement, a point he has brought up repeatedly in his lines of questioning. “It reminds me of the 1,693 delegations of authority in the health care reform bill that makes it almost impossible for the average citizen to understand what may be coming down the road.”

“More importantly, the bill does nothing to improve the metrics that this or a future administration will use to ensure that the border is truly secure,” Grassley added. 

“Congress passed a law in 2007 requiring that the 100 percent of the border be 100 percent ‘operationally controlled.’ However, President Obama and Secretary Napolitano abandoned that metric.  The bill before us weakens current law by only requiring the southern border to be ‘90 percent effectively secured’ in some sectors – only the so-called high risk sectors.  What about the other six sectors?”

“Then, before green cards are allocated to those here illegally, the Secretary only has to certify that the security plans and fencing are ‘substantially’ deployed, operational and completed,” Grassley concluded. “If the Secretary doesn’t do her job, then a commission is created to provide recommendations.  This is just a loophole that allows the Secretary to neglect doing the job.”

[UPDATE: 14:58 EDT] National Council of La Raza [The Race] Endorses "Gang of 8" legislation. From Breitbart News' Matt Boyle:

The extremist group National Council of La Raza endorsed the Gang of Eight immigration reform efforts during Monday’s hearing. 

“We really are appreciative of the Gang of Eight,” La Raza President and CEO Janet Murguía said during questioning from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) at the Senate Judiciary Committee immigration hearing’s third panel of the day.

[UPDATE: 14:44 EDT]

[UPDATE: 14:42 EDT]

[UPDATE: 14:33 EDT] Sen. Cornyn: "Immigration Bill Undermines Border Security"

As I read it, the border security provisions in this bill would necessarily mean that the border patrol will shift resources away, in a preannounced fashion, from most of the border sectors in order to reach the goals for only a few,” he said Monday during a Judiciary Committee hearing on the bill. “We can only imagine what the transnational criminal organizations that move drugs, people, and contraband across our border will do in response.

[UPDATE: 14:14 EDT] Rep. Paul Ryan: "Boston Should Spark Immigration Reform"

Senate Judiciary Chair, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) opened today's hearing with an admonition that people shouldn't use the Boston Marathon bombing to argue against comprehensive immigration reform. But, what about people using it to PUSH for immigration reform? 

“We have a broken immigration system, and if anything, what we see in Boston is that we have to fix and modernize our immigration system for lots of reasons,” Ryan told a throng of reporters. “National security reasons, economic security reasons. For all those reasons we need to fix our broken immigration system.”

[UPDATE: 14:00 EDT]

[UPDATE: 13:52 EDT] 

Rubio Spokesman: Your Immigration Compromise Offer Reminds Me Of Something. What's It Called? Oh Right...SLAVERY.

[UPDATE: 13:38 EDT] National Review's Rich Lowry to Cruz: 'Save Us From Immigration Bill 'Monstrosity'":

Politico has a piece on the contrasting positions of Cruz and Rubio on immigration. It notes that Cruz has held back so far in his opposition. I’m hoping Cruz makes killing this bill a top priority. Opponents could use his ability to dig in on the substance, his willingness to buck the establishment, and his tone (pro-immigrant yet pro-rule-of-law).

[UPDATE: 13:21 EDT] Sen. Dick Durbin jokes about "Gang of 8" being called a Gang:

“I’ve been involved in so many gangs you’d think I’d have a few tattoos by now”

The whole "gang" approach to legislating is worthy of mocking. The consequences, however, are less than amusing. 

[UPDATE: 13:11 EDT] Sen. Sessions: "Immigration Bill Puts Special Interests Before National Interest"

This statement from AL Sen. Jeff Sessions just hit my inbox:

I believe the interest that needs to be protected is the national interest of the United States, and that includes existing workers today, workers whose wages have been pulled down, without doubt, by a large flow of… low-wage labor into the country, and this bill would continue that in a way that’s very disturbing to me.

[UPDATE: 13:08 EDT] Rep. Paul Ryan joins left-wing Rep. Luis Gutierrez in Chicago to push immigration reform. 

[UPDATE: 12:53 EDT] Sen. Cruz: Abandon 'Pathway to Citizenship'

Breitbart News' Matt Boyle files another dispatch from inside the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration reform. In his opening remarks, TX Sen. Ted Cruz urges his colleagues to set aside the issue of a "pathway to citizenship" until they address border security and legal immigration reform. 

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called the Gang of Eight’s “pathway to citizenship” that first legalizes America’s 11-12 million illegal immigrants, eventually allowing them to apply for citizenship after a minimum of 13 years, a “deeply, deeply divisive issue” and urged his Senate colleagues to abandon that push in favor of an immigration system fix that focuses on border security and legal immigration.

Despite what he described as “good work” by the members of the Gang of Eight, Cruz argued for an approach that was truly bipartisan and discarded such politically controversial elements as the legalization process for America’s illegal immigrants.

“I would like to thank all members of the Gang of Eight, who have done good work, very very hard, to try to reach a solution,” Cruz said. “So, I commend the efforts of the four Democrats and the four Republicans. I think there is enormous agreement in this country that our immigration system right now is broken. I think that’s bipartisan agreement across the country that there are huge challenges.”

“I think all of us would like to see a bill that fixes the broken immigration system,” Cruz added. “I would suggest, in my view, the strategy to pass a bill is to focus where there is wide bipartisan support. That’s how we likely get a bill passed.”

Cruz pointed to border security and fixes to the legal immigration system as points at which members can all agree on. He did not specifically mention the Boston terror attack bombings but hinted at them in his remarks.

“We’ve got to get serious about securing the border,” Cruz said “We need to increase manpower, we need to increase technology, we need to fix the problem. In a post-9/11 world, I think it doesn’t make sense right now that we don’t have a criminal history or background of those coming in. We should fix that, including the problems with visa overstays.”

“I think there is likewise wide bipartisan agreement that we need to improve legal immigration,” Cruz added. “We need to streamline, we need to reduce the bureaucracy, reduce the red tape, reduce the waiting period. One of the reasons we see illegal immigration at the levels we do is because our legal immigration system is not working. I think we should all be champions of legal immigrants and not just welcoming, but celebrating legal immigrants. I think if we are going to see an immigration reform bill pass, that should be the focus of the bill.”

Cruz went on to say that he does not think a bill that contains a pathway to citizenship, as the Gang of Eight has laid out, has a chance at passing Congress and becoming law, and that lawmakers should not hold up other real reforms because of debate on how to handle illegal immigrants already in the country.

“I think, if instead, the bill includes elements that are deeply divisive, and I don’t think there is any issue with this entire thing but there is more to this than a ‘path to citizenship’ for those who are here today,” Cruz said. “In my view, any bill that insists upon that, jeopardizes the likelihood of passing any immigration bill. So it is my hope that passing a bipartisan bill that addresses areas of common agreement; securing the border, improving legal immigration including agricultural workers to make sure we have workers who are here legally. I hope that that reform legislation will not be held hostage to an issue that is deeply, deeply divisive, namely a pathway to citizenship.”

[UPDATE: 12:22 EDT] Erick Erickson: "I have seen shameful things."

This morning, Erick Erickson at Redstate reacted to Matt Boyle's story about secret email exchanges between ATR, CATO and staff members of Sen. Marco Rubio. The emails strategize about neutralizing conservative criticism of the "Gang of 8" immigration reform bill. From Erickson:

They are attacking other conservatives who disagree with them as racists, slavery supporters, bigots, haters, baby killers, un-Christian, etc. They are waging a coordinated attack between Senator Rubio’s office and others against conservative stalwarts like the Heritage Foundation and Jim DeMint.

They are proposing a plan that thus far appears to be unworkable, is wholly too complicated, and is a distraction from issues that we could all agree on in the name of getting a plan acceptable to Democrats. In the process, their attacks on conservatives designed to intimidate, browbeat, and silence them opens old wounds and does exactly what the Democrats hoped to do — divide the right and play directly to the fears of Hispanic voters who have for so long seen political leaders of both parties demagogue the issue.

[UPDATE: 12:12 EDT] Sunday afternoon, Politico reported on the possible looming fight between Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio over immigration reform. The two Hispanic, tea-party backed Senators seem to be falling on opposite sides of the debate:

The Texas freshman is sharply critical of the pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, a central part of the bipartisan bill that Rubio helped write. Cruz is weighing whether to aggressively oppose the immigration overhaul, a decision that could neutralize Rubio’s outreach to conservative activists in order to minimize their opposition.

[UPDATE: 12:05 EDT] Breitbart News' Matt Boyle has filed another dispatch from inside the Senate hearing on immigration reform. Sens. Schumer, Grassley and Sessions just had a heated exchange on the Boston bombing and its implications on the immigration debate:

When Schumer came up for questions first, he caused a massive disruption between him, the committee’s ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), after Schumer implied Grassley was trying to use the Boston terrorist attack bombings to shut down immigration debate.

“Generally, as an initial matter, I’d like to point out that our immigration bill has received widespread support and praise from law enforcement, business groups, labor unions, religious leaders, conservative leaders and immigration groups. It is no accident that all of these folks were standing with us last week when we introduced the bill. This is not just a few narrow special interests. These are some of the leading groups that represent tens of millions of people in America. The only witnesses who are willing to testify against the bill today three individuals from the so-called Center for Immigration Studies, an organization whose stated goal is to reduce immigration into the United States and invented the concept of self-deportation, the author of the SB-1070 controversial Arizona law that is so far to the extreme of extremes that is was found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and the head of the ICE union who has been an outspoken critic of immigration.”

"So, to call those groups for it, as my good friend from Alabama has, ‘special interests,’ when there just these three witnesses with far narrower, far more special interests than that and have not proposed any immigration reform for a very long period of time. These three are not mainstream witnesses. The American people are overwhelmingly in favor of immigration reform. That’s what every poll says.”

At that point, Sessions cut in and asked Schumer to “yield.”

“No I will not,” Schumer defied Sessions.

Schumer continued: “And they will not be satisfied with calls for delays and amendments toward the bill. I will say to my colleagues, and I understand their views are heartfelt, the chairman has a very open process. If you have ways to improve the bill, offer amendments when we start a markup that day and let’s vote.”

“I say that particularly to those who are pointing to what happened in that terrible tragedy in Boston as a, I would say excuse for not doing the bill or delaying the bill.”

Grassley interjected, shouting at Schumer: “I never said that! I never said that!”

Schumer: “I didn’t say anyone…”

Sessions: “Mr. Chairman, I don’t appreciate…”

Chairman Leahy then banged the gavel. “Let me…. We’re going to have one of the most open processes on this. As Senator Grassley knows, I’ve even offered some extra time on this. Let’s keep on the debate.”

Schumer: “And I thank you. I wasn’t intending – those on this committee or any of the witnesses. There were people out there. What I’m saying is if there are things that come up as a result of what happens in Boston, let’s add them to the bill.”

[UPDATE: 11:57 EDT] Sen. Rand Paul has sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asking to hold debate on comprehensive immigration reform until the country has a better understanding of the events surrounding the Boston Marathon bombing. From the press release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul today issued a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urging him to incorporate various national security concerns into the comprehensive immigration reform debate in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. Sen. Paul believes that comprehensive immigration reform requires a strong national security and until we can fully understand the systematic failures that enabled two individuals to immigrate to the United States from an area known for being hotbed of Islamic extremism, we should not proceed.

[UPDATE: 11:32 EDT] Last night, I reported on the very vague criteria to qualify for a new satellite phone grant program, which some have dubbed a "MacroPhone." This morning, Sen. Marco Rubio's office pushed back on the story, releasing a "Myth vs. Fact" press release. They make one very disingenuous point about my article. From their press release: 

FACT: Practically no one in San Diego, Tucson, El Paso – or any other major metropolitan area for that matter – lacks access to cellular service.

Except, the Gang of 8 bill doesn't reference "access" to service in the grant's eligibility. To be eligible for a grant, one must live within 100 miles of the US/Mexican border, and:

lack of cellular service

The legislation could have defined eligibility as a "lack of access to service," but it didn't. Words, even one, make a difference.

[UPDATE: 11:24 EDT.] The first dispatch from Breitbart News' Matt Boyle, inside the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on immigration reform: 

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) criticized “opponents of comprehensive immigration reform” for trying to “exploit the Boston Marathon bombing.”  

“Late last week opponents of comprehensive immigration reform began to exploit the Boston Marathon bombing,” Leahy said in his opening statement at a Monday morning hearing on the 844-page Gang of Eight immigration bill. “I urge restraint in that regard. Refugees and asylum seekers have enriched the fabric of this country from our founding. In Vermont, we have welcomed as neighbors Bhutanese, Burmese, and Somalis, just as other states have welcomed immigrants looking to America for refuge and opportunity.”

“Whether it is the Hmong in Minnesota, Vietnamese-Americans in California, Virginia and Texas, Cuban-Americans in Florida and New Jersey, or Iraqis in Utah, our history is full of these stories of salvation, and renewal,” Leahy added. “Let no one be so cruel as to try to use the heinous acts of two young men last week to derail the dreams and futures of millions of hardworking people. The bill before us would serve to strengthen our national security by allowing us to focus our border security and enforcement efforts against those who would do us harm. But a Nation as strong as ours can welcome the oppressed and persecuted without making compromises on our security. We are capable of vigilance in our pursuit of these values.”

Breitbart News exclusively obtained emails showing Rubio, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and the Cato Institute colluding to create talking points that argue the Gang of Eight immigration bill may have prevented the terrorists who bombed the Boston Marathon from getting into, or staying in, the country.

Rubio’s fellow Gang of Eight members Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have both also used the terrorist attack to push their bill. Schumer did so during Friday’s hearing, and during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union this weekend, and Graham did so on the CNN program this weekend too.

Leahy did not criticize Rubio’s, Schumer’s or Graham’s attempts to use the Boston Marathon bombing to push their immigration bill.


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