Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), ranking GOP member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and three of his fellow conservative committee colleagues are demanding the Republican members of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” take their immigration reform negotiations out of the shadows so all GOP members of the Senate, and the American people, can see what they are doing.
In addition to the immediate demand for transparency, the Judiciary Committee conservatives are demanding the “Gang of Eight” Republicans force multiple hearings on any immigration reform legislation their group develops.
Grassley organized a letter to GOP “Gang of Eight” members Sens. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), demanding they hold Senate Democrats’ feet to the fire on that aspect of the immigration reform process. Grassley’s fellow Judiciary Committee conservatives Sens. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) signed his letter to the “Gang” Republicans.
“As members of the Judiciary Committee, we believe it is critical that the public and the entire Senate body be given adequate time to read and analyze the contents of any immigration bill put forth by the Majority,” Grassley and his colleagues wrote. “Our Committee has only had three hearings in recent months, barely touching on issues involving enforcement, border security or the creation of a temporary worker program.”
Grassley and his fellow committee conservatives note that the committee’s Democratic chairman Sen. Pat Leahy of Vermont “recently indicated that he may possibly hold a single immigration-related hearing, but will likely proceed directly to a mark-up of a far-reaching and complex immigration bill based on your group’s proposals.”
Leahy recently said, in response to Rubio’s call for multiple hearings on an immigration bill, that he would “consider” holding just one hearing. Leahy made no guarantees. Rubio subsequently doubled down on his call for multiple hearings through a spokesman to Breitbart News, but Flake would not back that call. McCain and Graham have remained virtually silent on that front.
But the conservatives on the Judiciary Committee in Grassley’s letter to the “Gang” Republicans said they “expect to hear from experts on each of the proposals being put forth, including but not limited to a new temporary guest worker program, border security, interior and worksite enforcement, and the impact of large-scale legalization on American workers and taxpayers.”
Grassley and his fellow signatories note that President Barack Obama’s administration and Senate Democrats have blocked efforts by Senate Republicans seeking to fulfill their “duty to conduct oversight.”
“The policies of the Obama administration, including the recent revelation that the administration refuses to establish a border security metric for fear that it would interfere with a legalization program, leave little doubt that this administration has no intention of cooperating with Congress,” Grassley and his colleagues wrote. “These actions have further eroded the American people’s confidence that the government will carry out its duty to enforce the laws. We should not further test the faith of the American people by implementing a major overhaul of the immigration system that prioritizes legalizing law breakers over the long-term needs of the country.”
Grassley and his conservative members note they are “deeply concerned” about New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer’s recent remarks on how the Gang of Eight proposal would give amnesty or legalization to the 11 million illegal immigrants in America first, then aim for border security later. “So look, we’ve come to a basic agreement, which is that first, people will be legalized,” Schumer said on Meet The Press this past Sunday. “In other words, not citizens, but they’ll be allowed to work, come out of the shadows, travel. Then, we will make sure the border is secure.”
In their appeal to the Gang of Eight Republicans, Grassley and his fellow Judiciary Committee conservatives asked for a briefing from the Gang GOP by the close of business on this coming Monday, April 8. “Because the president has failed to lead on this matter, your group has secretly met for months and not consulted with members of this Committee about major changes to our nation’s immigration laws,” Grassley and his colleagues wrote. “The time for transparency has come. Given the Majority’s rushed timetable, we believe it is time for you to discuss the status of your negotiations, disclose what concessions have been made, and provide details to members of the Judiciary Committee as well as the entire Republican Caucus.”
The full letter can be read below: