Billionaires Warren Buffett, Sheldon Adelson and Bill Gates have teamed up to call for amnesty for America’s illegal immigrants as a solution to the ongoing crisis at the border as President Barack Obama mulls granting amnesty to millions via executive power.
“The three of us vary in our politics and would differ also in our preferences about the details of an immigration reform bill,” Buffett, Adelson and Gates wrote in the New York Times. “But we could without doubt come together to draft a bill acceptable to each of us. We hope that fact holds a lesson: You don’t have to agree on everything in order to cooperate on matters about which you are reasonably close to agreement. It’s time that this brand of thinking finds its way to Washington.”
The three billionaires pushed parts of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” immigration bill that they each like, and argued that it or a version of it should become law.
“A ‘talented graduate’ reform was included in a bill that the Senate approved last year by a 68-to-32 vote,” they wrote. “It would remove the worldwide cap on the number of visas that could be awarded to legal immigrants who had earned a graduate degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics from an accredited institution of higher education in the United States, provided they had an offer of employment. The bill also included a sensible plan that would have allowed illegal residents to obtain citizenship, though only after they had earned the right to do so.”
Buffett, Adelson and Gates called on House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) to push for an amnesty bill–and to break his previous promise that there would never be a conference committee with the Senate’s Gang of Eight bill.
“Whatever the precise provisions of a law, it’s time for the House to draft and pass a bill that reflects both our country’s humanity and its self-interest,” they wrote. “Differences with the Senate should be hammered out by members of a conference committee, committed to a deal.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the leading immigration hawk in Congress and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, responded to Buffett, Adelson and Gates by arguing President Obama can’t be trusted to handle any immigration laws.
“The President cannot be trusted to enforce any immigration law,” Sessions said in a statement. “We are in the midst of a border disaster–created by the President’s lawlessness–and Mr. Adelson, Mr. Gates, and Mr. Buffet want to implement a massive amnesty bill. Such a plan would wreak havoc on our nation’s laws and borders, which mean a great deal to the good and decent citizens of this country. It is clear that three of the richest billionaires in the world have no clue what Congress ‘owe[s] to the 318 million who employ them’. We owe them our loyalty, our compassion, our devotion. It is precisely because of our duty to the working people of this country that we must stop legislation that would import tens of millions of lower-wage workers to replace them.”
The National Journal‘s Major Garrett recently reported that President Obama is actually considering granting amnesty via executive order to upwards of five million more illegal aliens; Obama has already, through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, used executive power to allow millions of illegal alien children to remain in the United States via executive power.
“Obama made it clear he would press his executive powers to the limit,” Garrett wrote on July 3. “He gave quiet credence to recommendations from La Raza and other immigration groups that between 5 million to 6 million adult illegal immigrants could be spared deportation under a similar form of deferred adjudication he ordered for the so-called Dreamers in June 2012.”
Meanwhile, some in Congress–both Republicans and Democrats who support amnesty–plan to tie the current border crisis to a larger amnesty play. The New York Times quoted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) as working with fellow Gang of Eight members Sens. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to begin “preliminary discussions about the possibility of tying a solution to the current crisis to a broader deal.”
“It’s a way to start securing the border in line with the Senate bill,” Graham said. “If you could use this as an opportunity to beef up the border, I think it makes future immigration reform more likely.”
Electorally, pushing for amnesty has proven to be a disaster for incumbents in Congress. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary to economist Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) largely over the issue, which Cantor pushed from his leadership slot including a plan that would have used the United States military as a tool to grant amnesty to illegal alien minors who would enlist.
Buffett, Adelson and Gates used their New York Times op-ed as an effort to ease the electoral concerns of many in Congress after Cantor’s loss. Without actually naming Cantor, they wrote that his loss shouldn’t spell the end of amnesty for illegal aliens.
“American citizens are paying 535 people to take care of the legislative needs of the country,” the billionaires wrote. “We are getting shortchanged. Here’s an example: On June 10, an incumbent congressman in Virginia lost a primary election in which his opponent garnered only 36,105 votes. Immediately, many Washington legislators threw up their hands and declared that this one event would produce paralysis in the United States Congress for at least five months. In particular, they are telling us that immigration reform — long overdue — is now hopeless. Americans deserve better than this.”
But the billionaires’ soothing words haven’t helped many struggling pro-amnesty members. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), for example, after having voted for the Senate’s Gang Of Eight bill in 2013, is now taking a hard line on border security. “The president needs to secure the border now – using the National Guard in the way that President Bush did if that’s what it takes – and deal with this crisis of unaccompanied children illegally entering our country,” Alexander said at a recent Appropriations Committee hearing. “We need to send these unaccompanied children back home safely, as quickly as possible, and we should cut off foreign aid to countries that don’t cooperate.”
Alexander’s primary challenger state Rep. Joe Carr, a conservative who is, like Brat did against Cantor, running against Alexander’s support of amnesty, has hammered him over it. “It’s bad enough that Lamar Alexander says he knew about the border crisis for years and did nothing about it, but for him to suggest that Congress can’t do anything but wait for President Barack Obama is quite frankly, very dangerous thinking,” Carr said in a Friday statement, for instance. “This is a lawless President who has no regard for the rule of law – if anything, we need Senators like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jeff Sessions who aren’t afraid to assert themselves and proactively take action, not sit around like Lamar Alexander and wait for Barack Obama to do more damage.”
Rep. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who’s running for U.S. Senate in Louisiana against Democrat incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Tea Party-backed Col. Rob Maness, has waffled on whether he’ll support the President’s proposed $3.7 billion in new spending on the immigration crisis. Maness has, like Carr has against Alexander, honed in against Cassidy’s failure to take a hardline against amnesty.
Over in Mississippi, state Sen. Chris McDaniel ran hard on amnesty, signing an anti-amnesty pledge and seizing on a handful of small votes by his opponent, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), who voted against the “Gang of Eight” bill as well as the 1986 Reagan amnesty. McDaniel narrowly won the initial primary, and despite losing the runoff, is estimated to have won among Republican voters. Cochran prevailed by targeting Democrats to cross party lines.