IMMIGRATION -- (Senate - March 06, 2008)
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Mr. VITTER. Madam President, I rise today to join several of my colleagues to continue to focus on the enormous problem facing our country of illegal immigration. I am proud to not only rise with these colleagues, some of whom have been on the floor this morning, but also to actively work with them on important enforcement and other measures that we can and must push forward this year to make significant improvements, to take significant strides in moving forward to solve the problem.
Yesterday, I announced, along with others, two things--first of all, the formation of a brand-new caucus in the Senate, which I organized. I am proud to say that now I believe the number is 12 Members have joined the caucus. It is the Border Security and Enforcement First Caucus. The purpose behind the group is exactly as the name implies: to push border security and enforcement first as the key, necessary first step in solving this enormous problem.
We have tried the other approach over and over for decades, and that is the so-called comprehensive approach. All that has yielded is gaps of time--3 to 5 years--and then there is a comprehensive approach that was tried and completely rejected by the American people. That approach has only led to failure because it doesn't jibe with what the American people know is the right approach, which is taking this in steps and starting with crucial enforcement, proving to them that Washington is going to do what it has never done before--have the political will and get real about enforcement.
Most recently, of course, the American people rejected that approach last July when they chimed in and had the Senate view its will to kill that last so-called comprehensive bill--a large amnesty bill with which they disagreed vehemently. So this is a new approach that can lead to progress, achievement, and success--enforcement first.
Also, yesterday a broad group of Senators introduced a package of bills that moves us in that direction. I have two bills in that package, which I will briefly mention.
The first bill would say that so-called sanctuary cities--local jurisdictions that set as official policy that they are not going to cooperate in any way with immigration enforcement and with our Federal immigration enforcement officials--will not get COPS funding. Instead, that COPS funding will go to the rest of the local jurisdictions in the country who do work with us in immigration enforcement.
The second amendment simply says that matricula consular cards issued by the Mexican Government to their citizens in this country--oftentimes, their citizens who are here illegally cannot be accepted by U.S. banks, to allow them to do things like open bank accounts and have credit cards. That is clearly a vehicle that is used now by millions of illegal aliens, allowing them to operate freely and effectively in this country. It should end for many reasons, security reasons and for enforcement reasons. My bill would do that.
Again, I am proud to join with a number of Senators in this important push toward enforcement first and the formation of our new caucus, the Border Security and Enforcement First Caucus, and in introducing this important package of bills, which we can move and pass this year.
I urge all of my colleagues to reject and defy the conventional wisdom that we cannot do significant things in a big election year. We can and we must because we face significant challenges, and certainly illegal immigration is near the top of that list.
I yield the floor.