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Public Statements

Supplemental Appropriations

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC


SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS -- (Senate - May 24, 2007)

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Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, before yielding so we can have a vote on the amendment of the Senator from Vermont, I would like to respond to my friend from Alabama regarding the earned-income tax credit.

The earned-income tax credit is to help children--help children. Of all the industrialized nations of the world, we have more children living in poverty than any other Nation in the world. The earned-income tax credit is to help the children. They are not the lawbreakers; the parents are the lawbreakers. Yet this amendment will take it out on the children.

We don't do it for those who have committed murder and gone to prison. We don't do it for those who have committed aggravated assault. We don't do it for those who commit burglary, but we are going to do it for those who have been adjusted in terms of their status of being illegal. That is what the
Sessions amendment does. We don't do it for murderers, we don't do it for burglars, we don't do it for those who have committed the most egregious crimes, but we are going to do it in terms of those whose positions we are changing and altering in terms of their adjustment of status.

The people who are affected by it are the children. It doesn't seem to be the way we ought to go. But we will have a longer period of time to debate this at another time.

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Mr. KENNEDY. I want to commend the Senator from Vermont for this amendment. I intend to support it. Years ago I thought we ought to have it at $3,000. It went down to $1,000, and it has come back up to $1,500. The Senator has brought this up to a much more reasonable amount. I think he has made a very strong case for it. These funds will be used to make sure we get Americans being able to do those jobs. That is what the purpose is: to see we have Americans able to do those jobs, those H-1B jobs. It makes a great deal of sense. I commend the Senator.

There is one provision in here on the public hospitals, and I know he will work with us to try to address that in the conference, and I thank him for it. I hope the Senate will support his amendment.

I think we are prepared to vote on this amendment. I ask for the yeas and nays.

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Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, legalization is good for national security. We need to know the names of everyone living here. That is why the Department of Homeland Security supports earned legalization. All of title VI was written with the close cooperation of Secretary Chertoff and his staff.

Legalization is good for our economic prosperity. We need every worker in this country to join the formal economy and pay their taxes. That's why the Department of Commerce supports earned legalization. All of title VI was written with the close cooperation of Secretary Gutierrez and his staff.

Legalization is consistent with American family values. Would opponents of legalization deport children and divide families?

More than 1.6 million undocumented children live in the United States.

More than 3.1 million U.S.-citizen children have at least one undocumented parent.

Legalization supports our broader reform effort. We must break America's cycle of illegality. Enforcement at the worksite and elsewhere will fail if 12 million Americans and 5 percent of U.S. workers remain in the shadows.

The American people support earned legalization. Poll after poll find that large majorities of Americans want undocumented immigrants who have lived and worked in the United States to have a chance to keep their jobs and earn legal status.

This support spans political parties and crosses demographics.

Americans understand that this is a complex problem that requires a comprehensive solution.

Mr. President, this is not 1986; 1986 was amnesty. This is not amnesty. Let's be very clear about it. Not only do you have to have a background check, but you pay fees of $5,500, you have to learn English, you have to demonstrate you paid your taxes, you have to work for the next 8 years and demonstrate that you have worked in the past if you are ever going to get a green card. You have to return home in order to get your application for a green card, and you have to go to the back of the line. None of that was 1986.

Legalization is important for our national security. We have to know who is in the United States of America. Legalization is important in terms of our economic prosperity so our economy can function well, and legalization is important for the families. Do we think we are going to deport 3.5 million American children who have parents who are undocumented? Are we going to send those people overseas?

This amendment will undermine the legislation. I hope it will be rejected by the Senate.

I ask for the yeas and nays, Mr. President.

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