Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley said Tuesday night that the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill is far from a real solution to the nation’s immigration woes.
“Coming into the debate, my position was clear,” Grassley said in a statement as the Senate Judiciary Committee wrapped up its markup of the bill. “I voted for amnesty for 3 million people in 1986, and it didn’t solve the problem. We screwed up. And, today, we’re right back at the same place, talking about the same problems, and proposing the same solutions.”
Grassley said that while the Gang of Eight members want Americans to think this bill is different than the 1986 amnesty, the actual facts do not support that claim.
“The bill includes very little, if anything, to improve the executive branch’s ability to enforce the law,” Grassley said. “No one disputes that this bill is legalization first, enforcement later. And that’s just unacceptable to me and to the American people. People want immigration reform, but people also want border security.”
Grassley went on to say that the bill is not what he thinks would be considered true immigration reform, arguing that “this bill falls short of what I want to see in a strong immigration reform bill.”
“We need real solutions, not more gimmicks that fail to fix the real problem and secure our border,” Grassley said. “And we need to be fair to the millions of people who came here the right way, not bias the system in favor of those who snuck in through the back door.”
While Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said he will not block the bill from reaching the Senate floor, Grassley said he hopes the bill can be truly fixed via real amendments there. “I remain optimistic that on the floor we can vote on common sense amendments that better the bill,” Grassley said. “Serious consideration must be given to amendments that strengthen our ability to remove criminal gang members, hold perpetrators of fraud and abuse accountable, and prevent the weakening of criminal law. We must seriously consider how the bill works to the detriment of American workers, and find consensus around measures that require employers to recruit and hire from homegrown talent before looking abroad. We must be willing to close loopholes in our asylum process, prevent criminals and evildoers from gaining immigration benefits, and ensure that we’re improving our ability to protect the homeland.”
Grassley added that without true substantive changes to the bill on the Senate floor, he does not think this bill should become law. “The bill sponsors, the group of eight, have all said they want a product that can garner around 70 votes to send a message to the House that they should just rubber stamp the bill and send it to the President,” Grassley said. “Well, my message to the Senate and the House is that absent significant changes on the Senate floor, the House should take up their own process, develop their own product with input from their constituents, and work toward a conference on this bill. That will ensure that the bill benefits from the various checks and balances we have within the Legislative Branch to reach the proper outcome.”
Grassley later said more explicitly that, as is, he “cannot support this bill.”
“This bill does not contain the necessary provisions to stop the flow of illegal immigration, despite the adoption of many amendments,” Grassley said.