Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act

Floor Speech

By:  Lindsey Graham
Date: June 28, 2007
Location: Washington, DC


COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM ACT -- (Senate - June 28, 2007)

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Mr. GRAHAM. I thank the Chair.

To my colleagues who have participated in this debate, I think it has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I hope for all of us, because if we did this every week, the Senate would fall apart because this is tough politics, there is no question about it.

I do not pretend to know that I am on the wrong side or the right side of the American people. I can tell you what polls say--that once you tell people what is in this bill, about border enforcement, employer verification, merit-based immigration, the temporary worker program, it is 2 to 1 in about every poll I have seen. I guess you can get the poll to respond to the way you ask the question.

What I am trying to do is provide a solution to a problem that affects the American people. Here is the formula for this problem to be solved: bipartisanship.

To my friends on this side, if you think you can ignore Democrats, good luck. They exist. There are a bunch of them over there. Yes, raise your hand if you are a Democrat. Why don't you all leave? Well, they are not going away. Now, there are a bunch of us over here. Good luck ignoring us.

I would like to secure the border. How many Democrats would? Everybody raises their hand, right? Wouldn't you like to have an employer verification system where an employer would know the difference between somebody who is illegal and legal?

Enforce the current law. To my friends who call me endlessly and say, ``Just enforce the current law, Lindsey,'' well, here is Lindsey's response: I have looked at it. It is unenforceable. You can get a job in America based on a driver's license and a Social Security card being presented. What did all the hijackers on 9/11 have in common? They all had fake ID cards. They all had fake driver's licenses. I can get you a Social Security card. To my good friend from South Carolina, Jim DeMint, we can go to the Jockey Lot in Anderson, and I can get both of us a Social Security card by midnight with whatever name you want, whatever number you want.

Until we address that problem, we are never going to solve illegal immigration because it is about jobs. Current law is a failure. The public should be cynical. Are we helping them when we fail? We are at 20 percent approval, and we deserve it. We do not deserve our pay raise. But who are the 20 percent? What do you like about this Congress? I cannot believe there are 20 percent of the American people who like what we are doing up here because we are doing nothing but talking about what we will not do, and we are playing a game that the American people do not understand, like the other side does not exist.

You are never going to deal with this issue until you embrace the 12 million. No Democrat is going to let you build a fence and do all the things we want to do without addressing the 12 million. That is never going to happen.

I want to address the 12 million. The reason I want to address the 12 million, it bothers me there are 12 million people here that we do not know who they are and what they are up to. I wish they would go away, but they are not. It is a problem America has to deal with, and we want someone else to do it because we are afraid if we do a plea bargain it is amnesty.

We are afraid that the people who don't want to deal with the 12 million will come and take our jobs away. This is about our jobs.

Well, this is bigger than my job. The 12 million will be dealt with. They are not going to be ignored. They will be dealt with firmly and fairly eventually. They are not going to be deported. They are not going to jail. They can't be wished away. So we need to come together in a bipartisan manner and have principled compromise where we deal with the 12 million, we deal with broken borders, we get a temporary worker program.

To my Republican friends, remember this day if you vote no. You will never, ever have this deal again. There will never be a merit-based immigration system such as we have negotiated because President Bush has helped us. To my friends on this side who say President Bush would sign anything, you don't understand what is going on here. President Bush has given us as Republicans things we will never get without him being President. We have lost the majority, but we have a good deal because we have hung together. A temporary worker program and a merit-based immigration system is a good deal for this country. If we say no today, good luck of ever getting it again.

The 12 million stay here on our terms. They have to learn English. They have to pay fines. They can't be citizens unless they go back and start over. This is as good as it is going to get.

Now, if we lived in a perfect world where the Republicans could write this bill, it would be different, and I can assure you, my Democratic friends would have written a different bill. All I can tell you is, the American people have a low opinion of us because we can't seem to do the things we need to do----

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.

Mr. GRAHAM. Because we are too worried about us and not them.