Graham Statement on Immigration Reform Bill
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on the Senate immigration bill.
"Several months ago, I met with President Bush at the White House to discuss our out-of-control problems with illegal immigration. He asked me if I would help him push immigration reform through Congress and I gave him my word I would. I support President Bush and admire his leadership. I will be forever grateful for his work to try and solve this difficult problem.
"President Bush and I made it clear we would not compromise on our guiding principle that securing our nation's borders must be our first priority. Our plan made unprecedented efforts and provided over $4.4 billion in funding to secure our nation's borders and deal with immigration in a comprehensive manner.
"The legislation first and foremost secured our border. It also established a new comprehensive employee verification system for all workers to ensure people are in the country legally and eligible to work. We were going to break the cycle of chain migration and institute a new merit-based immigration system to attract the best and brightest from around the world. And we were instituting a temporary guest worker program to meet our nation's labor needs.
"If the bill's failing leads to Congress finding a better solution, then the American people will have won. If the status quo and broken immigration system continue to go unaddressed, then the American people lost. I do fear our failure to act will only allow the problem of illegal immigration to grow worse and the anger felt by some Americans will grow more intense.
"I worry that local and state governments will begin to act more aggressively and create a hodge-podge of laws. While the President's legislation was not perfect, it was honest, realistic and an improvement over current law. Secretary of Homeland Security Chertoff, who is responsible for enforcing our nation's immigration laws, made it clear that in some cases the tools he needs to control illegal immigration are either non-existent or very weak. I'm disappointed some of the tools he wanted and desperately needed to control illegal immigration were left on the Senate floor.
"The American people have a historically low view of Congress. We seem unable to do the public's business and find consensus on difficult issues.
"Finally, I want to say a few words about my friend and colleague Jim DeMint. We found ourselves in an unusual situation. While we usually agree, President Bush and I have very different views from Jim on the best way to address this contentious issue. Jim held firm to his beliefs and was a very strong advocate for his position."