Sen. Jeff Sessions: McCaul Bill Breaks Republican Promise to Voters on Immigration

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), arguably the intellectual leader of the national movement against immigration amnesty, has come out swinging against a new border bill proposed by House Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX).

Sessions issued a lengthy and blistering statement detailing the reasons he thinks McCaul’s bill would be a mistake for any Republican who supports stopping President Obama’s executive amnesty and other “lawlessness” on immigration. The senator writes:

Republicans won a historic midterm vote on the promise to take real action—not symbolic gestures—to end the immigration lawlessness. It is essential that any immigration measures moved by the Republican Congress actually do the job. Too often, Congress will pass anything on immigration except that which will actually work. Indeed, the repudiated Gang of Eight bill was touted as the ‘toughest border security [and] enforcement measures in U.S. history.’ Unfortunately, border legislation being marked-up on Wednesday in the House Homeland Security Committee again fails to include the measures necessary to fulfill its promises.

Sessions writes that McCaul’s bill does nothing to stop Obama’s catch-and-release immigration policies. In recent months, immigration agents from Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been prevented from actually apprehending and deporting illegal aliens when they’re caught. Instead, the illegal aliens are allowed to stay. While they’re waiting for adjudication proceedings (that few actually even show up at) they can take job opportunities away from struggling Americans. Sessions adds:

One of the most dramatic ways in which the President has undermined immigration enforcement is by ordering agents to release apprehended illegal border-crossers by the tens of thousands. Yet the pending legislation does nothing to end this endemic practice of catch-and-release, ensuring large amounts of illegal immigration will continue unabated. The Chairman McCaul proposal does not include the following reforms needed to achieve a sound immigration system: it does not end catch-and-release; it does not require mandatory detention and return; it does not include worksite enforcement; it does not close dangerous asylum and national security loopholes; it does not cut-off access to federal welfare; and it does not require completion of the border fence. Surprisingly, it delays and weakens the longstanding unfulfilled statutory requirement for a biometric entry-exit visa tracking system.

Sessions said that Congress, especially Republicans, should have learned form the border crisis this past summer that it can’t continue to support Obama’s non-enforcement policies by just throwing money at the border without substantive changes to immigration law.

“If Congress learned anything from last year’s ongoing border disaster, it should be that border security cannot be achieved unless immigration agents are permitted to do their jobs and our laws are actually being enforced,” Sessions said. “A nation cannot control its borders if being caught violating those borders does not result in one’s swift return home.”

Sessions said that since McCaul’s bill doesn’t change any of those immigration policies, the money it would throw at the border would just instead by used by Obama to further facilitate administration policies that enable illegal immigration.

As it stands now, Congress provides billions of dollars every year to the Department of Homeland Security for border security and immigration enforcement and yet DHS uses those resources to flout the laws Congress has passed, rather than to enforce them. Without ending catch-and-release, any additional funds for DHS will simply be used to facilitate the transfer of more illegal immigrants into U.S communities. Border security must be approached differently in a time when we have a President who makes up his own laws, and where illegal immigrants actually hope they will be apprehended so they can be released into an American city or town. We live in a new reality.

Sessions listed out a series of reforms that would need to be included in any effective bill.

Those measures include “mandatory E-Verify,” “mandatory detention and repatriation for illegal entrants,” “expedited deportation for border-crossers,” a closing of “asylum loopholes,” barring access for illegal aliens to welfare and tax credits, “penalties for the Administration’s continued failure to implement the biometric entry-exit system as required by law,” “penalties for the Administration’s continued failure to build 700 miles of double-layer border fence,” and “refusing visas to countries with high overstay rates or that will not repatriate their citizens.”

Sessions notes as Americans are hungry for leadership to stop the president’s policies on immigration, and Republicans should step up.

“Americans have begged and pleaded for years for an end to the lawlessness,” Sessions said:

But the politicians have refused to listen. Time and again, proposals are offered with tough promises that the legislation does not fulfill. This time must be different. We cannot be satisfied with measures that create the appearance of doing something while changing little. We need reforms that actually work, protecting the jobs and communities of the American citizens we represent.


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