U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) joined Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) today to outline their bipartisan immigration reform proposal.
Senator McCain's opening statement at today's press conference:
"To paraphrase Churchill, this is not the end of the process, just the end of the beginning. There is a long and difficult road ahead. Committee hearings and mark up, full, open and, no doubt, spirited debate on the floor. We expect many amendments will be offered to the bill. Some will be intended to improve it. Some will be offered in the hope of killing it.
"None of us expect the bill the Senate ultimately votes on to be identical to the one we introduce today. But we are all united in our determination that at the end of the day it remains a fair, comprehensive and practical solution to a difficult problem that most Americans can support and that stands a good chance of passing the House and being signed into law by the President.
"The legislation isn't perfect. There are provisions most if not all senators can support. Some will appeal more to one side than another. No one will like every provision in the bill. Neither should anyone oppose every provision.
"We're offering a comprehensive and workable solution to our broken immigration system that piecemeal responses have not and cannot repair. The status quo threatens our security, damages our economy, disregards the rule of law, and neglects our humanitarian responsibilities. A problem of that magnitude that affects so many of our interests will never be easy to address, but never more necessary to address either. And its resolution cannot be achieved by means other than political compromise and consensus and the resolve to not make the perfect the enemy of the good.
"That's what we have tried to do. We've agreed on provisions to regain control of our borders and protect the safety of communities along the border and the security of our nation.
"We've addressed the labor needs of a growing and globally competitive economy with a workable guest worker policy and sensible expansion of H1B visa program. We've enforced the rule of law by making it more difficult for employers to hire people who've come here illegally.
"We confronted the reality of de facto amnesty for the 11 million or more people who came here illegally by proposing a lengthy path to citizenship that doesn't place lawful immigrants at a disadvantage and is contingent on doing everything possible to make our border secure and discourage future waves of illegal immigration.
"Finally, we have recognized that most people who cross our borders illegally or overstay their visas have done so for the same reason that attracted other immigrants here -- to find economic opportunity and a better life for their families and to live in a society that values human dignity. We cannot sanction their violation of our immigration laws. Neither can we continue to have people desperate for a better life be exploited by unscrupulous human traffickers, abused by violent criminals, and left to die in our deserts.
"Yes, we offer a path to citizenship to people who didn't come here legally. They are here and realistically there is nothing we can do that will induce them all to return to their countries of origin. Many of them make valuable contributions to our society and will provide even more if they are brought out of the shadows and in compliance with our laws. And we are a nation with a conscience that can't tolerate the terrible violations of human rights that our current dysfunctional immigration system is unable to prevent.
"As I said, it is a lengthy path that doesn't precede securing our borders or the enforcement of our laws or supplant the privileges of legal immigrants. We have tried to make it easier to work here legally and harder to do so illegally.
"We have done our best to resolve the many parts of this complicated problem. We expect and welcome suggested improvements to the bill by our colleagues during the debate and amendment process. We'll oppose only those amendments that are intended to prevent a comprehensive solution from passing, and thereby perpetuate our current failed immigration system.
"There is no greater satisfaction in this job than working with members from both parties in a good faith effort to serve the nation's interests. I thank my colleagues here for the privilege."