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Public Statements

The Dream Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

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Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, last week I gave remarks on the floor that pointed out that promises made that the immigration bill before us was a significant move toward merit-based immigration and away from chain immigration--I dealt with that subject. I am not aware that any of my comments have fundamentally been disputed.

The fact is that 30 million people will be given legal status as an immigrant on a pathway to citizenship over the next 10 years--that 30 million is three times the current legal flow of 1 million a year, which would be 10 million a year. It would triple the number of people put on a path to permanent legal residence and citizenship. Only 2.5 million of those would be admitted under this new, small, actually weak, merit-based section of the bill. This is nowhere close to the truly effective and popular merit-based immigration system which Canada adopted a decade--maybe more--ago and which is being followed and adopted in other developed countries around the world.

Evidence has also been introduced that nonimmigrant guest workers--that is, those who come not for immigration, to be a citizen and be permanent, but come to work for a period of time and return home--that group of workers will double under the legislation that is before us over current law.

All of this is at a time of persistently high unemployment and when virtually all serious academics, economic experts agree that such a huge flow will depress wages of our middle-class workers and increase unemployment. Politicians blithely claim otherwise, but Professor Borjas at Harvard and the Federal Reserve in Atlanta and others have studied this, and they show otherwise with in-depth economic research.

There is a long list of other promises. The reason I raise this is because these were promises that we are going to improve the working conditions of Americans, we are going to shift to a merit-based system. That is not correct.

There are other promises. I made a speech and so have others that have clearly demonstrated that the triggers in the bill do not work. The triggers are supposed to say: You do not get legal status or you do not get green card status until these law enforcement issues are fixed, until the illegality is fixed. The triggers are ineffective. That has been documented. It really is not disputable, in my opinion. All the Secretary of Homeland Security has to do is to submit a plan that she says will work. It does not require any fencing or any other actions specifically. And she gets to determine whether it is working. If it does not meet the standards according to the Secretary, then a border commission is established, but the border commission has no power. It can only issue a report, and it dissolves in 30 days. So these promises that we have a very tough plan that is guaranteed through a series of triggers are not so.

Today I will talk about the DACA program and how that has undermined law enforcement. Surely we can agree that congressional legislation is more than salesmanship, it is more than puffing, it is more than promises. Surely it represents a bill and a bill that must be read.

The words of legislation are not a mere vision designed to touch our hearts. It is not something that the sponsors can come in and say: We believe the American people are correct. They want A, B, C, and D. We have a bill that does it. And then nobody reads the bill to determine whether it does it. So that is what I have been trying to do.

Congress and the good American people do want to solve our immigration problems--problems that our politicians and government leaders have messed up for 30 years. The American people have pleaded with Congress to fix this system for 30 years. Congress has failed to do so. They continue to promise to do so but do not. Now, that is a fact.

But legislative language is the real thing. Legislation is not a vision. Legislation has power--power to fix our broken system or power to allow the lawlessness to continue. Thus, it is legislation, not spin, that we will be voting on. A promise made by a gang is of no value if the bill language does not produce the results they promise. So that is the rub. That is the problem we face.

Presumably there are ads running this very day which claim to be sponsored by conservative voices, founded by Mr. Zuckerberg of Facebook, no conservative to my knowledge, featuring Senator Rubio urging the passage of the bill. Indeed, Mr. Zuckerberg created a front group that is on the advertisement--they are called Americans for a Conservative Direction, that purports to be reflective of conservative thinking in America.

I think that is a bit odd. It is odd right now that Senator Rubio, who is still talking to the American people on those ads and to my constituents in Alabama, is saying all of this on the ad when he has already said the bill is flawed and he cannot vote for it in its current circumstance. I think that advertisement ought to be pulled.

Worse, virtually everything in the ad, especially in the voiceover--not Senator Rubio--but the voiceover is false. It is not an accurate description of the legislation, what it does, how it will work. It is just not. If it was, I would be intrigued by this legislation and would be interested in thinking it should set sort forth a framework that most Americans agree would be a basis for immigration reform.

So conservatives should be careful, no matter how sincere, in being part of promoting legislation that we do not fully understand or will not do what it claims it will do. A commitment to truth is a conservative value. I like all of the Gang of 8 members personally. I have worked with them for a number of years. I truly admire Senator Rubio. He is a fantastic new Member of the body. I understand the goals they articulate and would support most of those goals. So it is no pleasure for me to raise these uncomfortable points.

But at this very minute, Mark Zuckerberg and his supporters are running these ads promoting legislation as doing something I do not believe it does. I think we should be working on that. I know we have had a number of our colleagues, another one of my good friends this weekend pronounced a political doctrine of the death spiral of the Republican Party. I have to tell you, we have a lot of people who make political prognostications. But the truth is who knows what political issues will dominate in 2016 or 2020 or 2030.

Mr. President, is there a time agreement?

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Mr. SESSIONS. Thank you. I did not realize that. How much time is remaining?

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Mr. SESSIONS. I thank the Chair.

The best politics, in my view, is to do the right thing for the right reason and to be able to explain what one is doing cogently and honestly to the American people, and then the people will decide. If they do not like your decisions over a period of time you are out. So be it.

Is that not the way the system is supposed to work?
It is not wrong to give respect to the opinions of the American people, to ask what they think about issues and how they react to issues. There is nothing wrong with that. Actually, we should do that. But it is not right to poll a large and complex issue to find out what people want and then propose legislation that you say fulfills their desires, when the legislation does not fulfill those desires.

That is not the right thing to do, to promote good policy in America. As a matter of fact, polls show the American people want enforcement before amnesty by a 4-to-1 margin. Polls also show a clear majority actually favor a lower legal flow or the same amount of legal flow into our country from immigration.

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Mr. SESSIONS. They do not favor the huge increase of legal flow that is called for in this bill. Maybe later I will be able to talk about some of the difficulties of enforcement under current law.

I yield the floor.

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