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Public Statements

Immigration Policy

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SESSIONS. I thank the Senator for his leadership and in-depth study and knowledge about how these laws are working--and really not working--in America today.

I just left a hearing in the Judiciary Committee. The chairman of that committee, Senator Leahy, basically said--referring perhaps to me--they want enforcement first, but it seems they don't have any interest in amnesty--or words to that effect. I would say the American people's view is exactly the opposite. What the American people have been asking for and what they are afraid of is that we will have a deal like 1986 where the amnesty provisions become law and were immediately applied, but the promises of enforcement never occurs. So I believe that is a danger again.

It feels to me so much like 2007 when I, Senator Vitter, and others engaged and asked tough questions about the legislation which really resulted in its failure because it would not have done what the authors of it said it would do. So for 30 or 40 years the American people have said: End the lawlessness. That is what they have asked of us first. They will work a way to be compassionate if the lawlessness has ended, but that has not happened.

In fact, in a number of ways we have gone in the opposite direction. Improvement has occurred at the border in real numbers because over the last several years--before President Obama took office--we agreed to increase the number of Border Patrol agents. With the help of Senator Vitter, I forced through legislation to build a fence. I am sure Senator Vitter remembers that debate.

Now everybody talks about how we have a fence, and they are bragging about it. It is only 36 miles of the real fence we asked for. I am sure the Senator from Louisiana remembers how they opposed every foot of it and how they resisted it in every way possible. They didn't favor adding border agents. There was a vote for border agents--and I remember speaking about it--but they never produced the money. So we authorized border agents. People said they were for border agents, but they would not vote for the money to support that. We had a big discussion and debate about that, and eventually we added some border agents. That has helped, but the problem is not fixed.

Internally, this administration has systematically dismantled enforcement inside the United States. Chris Crane, who is head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Union, is a marine and a great guy. The ICE union has unanimously voted no confidence in John Morton, the head of the ICE Department. They have sued the ICE Department because Morton blocked them from doing their sworn duty to enforce the law.

Today I asked Crane if he had ever met with Secretary Napolitano. Chris testified about the bad morale that ICE agents have. A little over a year ago I asked Secretary Napolitano about the bad morale that ICE agents have. Crane said he had never met her and has never shaken hands with her. At this point, we don't have the kind of commitment in law enforcement that I think gives the American people confidence that we are moving forward on the right path.

Finally, I would just share with the Senator that I do think that means this is no sure thing. People are awfully confident that as long as some big names are on the bill, it is just going to pass. I am not confident that is so.

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Mr. SESSIONS. Would the Senator from Mississippi say the enforcement of immigration laws is an area--based on the Senator's experience in Congress, in the House and in the Senate--where the difference between the promises of what is going to happen and what actually happens is greater than almost any other issue we have dealt with, where people are promising this and only delivering something else?

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Mr. SESSIONS. According to some news reports--to follow up on the point the Senator made about sending two messages, one promising the people one thing and the other telling special-interest groups another thing--one report said Democratic Senators have assured immigration activists that the so-called enforcement trigger is just a ``talking point'' to give Republicans, who are supporting this scheme, this plan, as cover and there will not ever be an impediment to the achievement of amnesty. Does that make the Senator from Mississippi uneasy, that people who are supposed to be speaking in good faith, telling their Republican colleagues and the American people they have a plan that is going to guarantee enforcement while they are telling, apparently, the activists something quite different?

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Mr. SESSIONS. In other words--well, the words Senator Schumer is saying are quite plain. I have a great deal of respect for him. I know he wants to accomplish something valuable here. But it does seem to me he is saying, Well, if enforcement doesn't occur, we promise there will be a trigger and there will be no amnesty unless enforcement occurs; but if we get there and enforcement doesn't occur, you are still going to get your amnesty.

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Mr. SESSIONS. I will conclude and yield to my esteemed colleague to lay out some ideas he has to actually improve enforcement so that if we get to the point where we can achieve a legal system that operates effectively in America, we will know it when it happens. We can get there. Without some of these provisions Senator Vitter will recommend, I am confident we will not get there. If people won't support these kinds of provisions, then it raises questions about whether they are serious about their promises to end the lawlessness.

I just left a Judiciary Committee hearing. Mr. Vargas testified, who was here apparently illegally, came at the age of 12. I asked him: Should a good Nation have a legal system that has clear laws, clear policies, and those laws are in force? And he said yes. So there is nothing wrong, nothing immoral, nothing unconstitutional for the American people to say we should have a lawful system of immigration. Everybody is not able to come. You have to wait in line and wait your turn and meet the qualifications before you come. And if you try to enter illegally, there will be consequences. There is nothing immoral about that. It is only common sense. It is only the right thing to do.

I thank the Senator from Mississippi for his work on this and the ideas he will be presenting to us.

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