COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM ACT OF 2007--Continued -- (Senate - June 06, 2007)
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Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I think it is very appropriate you be occupying the Chair during this moment in this debate. My good friend from Illinois says to those who have worked so hard to get this bill to the point it is at: Nothing personal, but I can't live with this provision.
Bipartisanship is music to the American people's ears. When you are out there on the campaign trail, you are trying to bring us all together. You are trying to make America better. Why can't we work together? This is why we can't work together because some people, when it comes to the tough decisions, back away because when you talk about bipartisanship, some Americans on the left and the right consider it heresy, and we are giving in if we adopt this amendment.
The 12 million who have lived in fear for decades, my Republican colleagues and a majority have told our base we are not going to put them in jail and we are not going to deport them. No matter how much you scream, no matter how much you yell, we are going to make them right with the law, we are going to punish them, but we are not going to play like they don't exist, and we are going to do things differently in the future.
If you care about families under this bill, people are united in 8 years who would be 30 years getting here. If you care about families wanting to wake up one morning and not be afraid, this bill does it.
This amendment in the name of making the bill better says that bipartisanship doesn't have the ``bi'' in it. It means everybody over here who has walked the plank and told our base you are wrong, you are going to destroy this deal. And that is exactly what it is, a deal--a deal to make America more secure, to give people a chance to start their lives over again and to have a new system that has a strong family component but will make us competitive with the world because some people don't want to say to the loud folks: No, you can't have your way all the time.
Let me tell you, this is about as bipartisan as you will get, Mr. President. Some of us on the Republican side have been beat up and some on the Democratic side have been beat up because we have tried to find a way forward on a problem nobody else wants to deal with.
To my friend, Senator Kennedy, thank you for trying to find a way, as much as we are different, to make this country better, more secure, to treat 12 million people in a way they have never been treated and, in my opinion, deserve to be treated, to have a chance to start over.
What a sweet idea it is to have a second chance in life. Well, they are not going to get it if this is adopted, and America will be all the worse for it. What a great opportunity we have as a country not to repeat the mistakes of 1986, by having a merit-based immigration system that has a strong family component but frees up some green cards so we can be competitive.
So when you are out on the campaign trail, my friend, telling about why can't we come together, this is why.
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Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I say to my colleagues who worked to put this bill together, they know what this does. The deal is that in 8 years people will be reunited as families who never would have seen each other for maybe 30 years. We have united families in 8 years. The Z visa people have a chance to start over, but only after the backlog is cleared.
The merit-based system is the vehicle to be used after 8 years so they can come into our system and maybe one day be a citizen and get a green card. If we sunset the merit-based system at 5 years, there is no vehicle left, and to us over here, what would my colleagues say if we sunsetted the Z program in 5 years? My colleagues would walk, and they should.
This is not right. This does not help us as a country.
This destroys the vehicle to solve a problem that has been neglected for 20-something years.
I ask my colleagues to vote no for the sake of the country.