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Public Statements

Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act--Continued--

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, this amendment is very simple but it is important. It would finally demand and require execution and enforcement of the so-called US-VISIT system, an entry-exit system to catch visa overstays. This system was first mandated by Congress in 1996. We have had six additional votes by Congress demanding it then. The 9/11 terrorists were visa overstays. As a result, this system was strongly recommended, one of the top recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. We must put this in place as we act on immigration. This amendment would get that done.

I reserve the remainder of my time.

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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, may I inquire how much time is remaining

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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, we have talked about this since 1996 and 9/11 happened. When are we going to do it if not now?

I urge support of the amendment.

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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, I rise to present and discuss the next amendment I personally offered which I am going to be bringing to the Senate floor; that is, amendment No. 1330, to prohibit anyone who has been convicted of offenses under the violence against women and children act from gaining legal status under the bill.

I think if we ask the American people if they support the outline that has been presented as the guiding outline for the Gang of 8, the vast majority would say we absolutely support those principles. I would say I support those principles as they were enumerated. The trouble is, in my opinion, when we actually read the bill--and let's remember, particularly as we are in the middle of the debacle of executing ObamaCare, it is important to read the bill, it is important to know what is in the bill--in my opinion, the trouble is when we actually read the bill, it doesn't stand up to those principles. It doesn't match.

One example is the absolute commitment made by the Gang of 8 early on in this process that individuals with a serious or significant criminal background would not get legal status and would be deported. They were very specific about that. In their bipartisan framework for comprehensive immigration reform, which the authors of this bill--the so-called Gang of 8--released in January of this year--they said very specifically:

Individuals with a serious criminal background or others who pose a threat to our national security will be ineligible for legal status and subject to deportation.

It is very clear.

But then, again, when we actually read the bill, I believe it comes up far short of that. It does not include significant crimes, serious crimes which it should include as a disqualification.

One of the areas I think is the clearest example of that is offenses under the Violence Against Women Act, offenses that have to do with domestic violence, with child abuse. Those are serious violent offenses that every American citizen--particularly women--would certainly consider very consequential, very significant, very serious, undermining their fundamental security.

This Vitter amendment No. 1330, which I will be presenting and getting a vote on later in this debate, is simple. It simply says those criminal offenses, a conviction of any of those criminal offenses under the Violence Against Women Act--we are talking about domestic violence, we are talking about child abuse--are disqualifiers. Nobody can gain legal status if they are convicted of any of those offenses. That is a disqualifier and it is grounds for deportation.

Again, it is very important to read the bill. It is very important that if anything passes here, it actually matches the promises made to the American people, the rhetoric the American people have heard for weeks and months. This is an important area where we need to get it right.

So I hope all of my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, agree that these are serious offenses. Certainly, everybody seemed to agree in the important discussion about the Violence Against Women Act. Certainly, everybody seemed to agree then that those offenses that are all about domestic violence and child abuse are very serious, very significant, involve or threaten violence, and certainly they should be disqualifiers for a person becoming legalized under this bill and they should be grounds for immediate deportation. I hope this is beyond debate. I hope this amendment, as it should, gets widespread bipartisan support.

I very much look forward to continuing this discussion about amendment No. 1330. I very much look forward to getting the vote it will get because it deserves to get it--and I will demand it--and I very much hope for and look forward to a strong bipartisan vote in support of stopping violence against women, in support of furthering the protections of the Violence Against Women Act.

Thank you. I yield the floor.

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