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Dr. Coburn Votes Against Senate Amnesty Bill

Location: Washington, DC

Dr. Coburn Votes Against Senate Amnesty Bill

- U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) today voted against a Senate immigration bill (S. 2611) that would grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants without providing adequate safeguards to protect our borders.

"The American people have been demanding that their elected officials take action to limit illegal immigration first by securing our borders, then by addressing guest worker reform. Unfortunately, this bill reversed those priorities. Rewarding illegal immigrants with amnesty without taking adequate steps to secure our borders is the wrong way to address this problem," Dr. Coburn said.

"America is a welcoming nation that was built by immigrants, but it is also a nation governed by the rule of law. Rewarding illegal immigrants with a clear path to citizenship and voting rights is unfair to the millions of individuals who immigrated to this country legally. This approach will also make the problem of illegal immigration worse, which is precisely what happened after Congress passed a similar law in 1986," Dr. Coburn said.

"It is impossible for Congress to accurately assess our need for guest workers before we have taken the steps necessary to secure our borders. It is important for Congress to understand that the public will not trust us on this issue until our borders are secure. Once we take that step, I believe the American people would support a compassionate and common sense plan for dealing with our need for guest workers and the 12 million illegal immigrants who are already here," Dr. Coburn said.

The Senate today also voted to weaken a provision Dr. Coburn added in the Judiciary Committee that would have made it easier for federal officials to deport illegal immigrants who had committed crimes. Each year, the Oklahoma prison system spends an estimated $11.7 million to incarcerate illegal criminal immigrants.

Top Ten Reasons to Oppose The Senate Amnesty Bill

1. Rewards Illegal Behavior with Clear Path to Citizenship and Voting Rights - Amnesty

* As noted by former Attorney General Ed Meese in the New York Times on May 24, 2006: "Like the amnesty bill of 1986, the current Senate proposal would place those who have resided illegally in the United States on a path to citizenship, provided they meet a similar set of conditions and pay a fine and back taxes. The illegal immigrant does not go to the back of the line but gets immediate legalized status, while law-abiding applicants wait in their home countries for years to even get here. And that's the line that counts. In the end, slight differences in process do not change the overriding fact that the 1986 law and today's bill are both amnesties."

2. Creates Temporary Worker Program That is Neither Temporary Nor Work-Based

* The bill's guest worker program would allow millions of illegal immigrants to qualify for permanent green cards within four years. Additionally, the Senate approved Senator Kennedy's amendment that each year would allow up to 200,000 immigrants who cross the border illegally and work just 6 days a year (including self employment) to qualify for a permanent green card.

3. Unprecedented Wave of Immigrants - 66 Million Over 20 Years

* This bill is estimated to skyrocket the number of immigrants, from its current level of 19 million over the next 20 years, to an unprecedented number. Heritage Foundation: "...[O]ur estimate of the number of legal immigrants who would enter the country or would gain legal status under S. 2611 … [would be] 66 million over the next 20 years."

4. Insufficient Border Security

* The Senate rejected an amendment by Senator Isakson that would have prohibited the implementation of any guest worker program that grants legal status to those who have entered the country illegally until the Secretary of Homeland Security has certified to the President and to the Congress that the border security provisions in the immigration legislation are fully funded and operational.

5. Terrorist Loophole Disarms Law Enforcement

* Heritage Foundation reported May 24, 2006: "The Senate's immigration reform proposal … would restrict local police to arresting aliens for criminal violations of immigration law only, not civil violations. The results would be disastrous. All of the hijackers on (9-11) who committed immigration violations committed civil violations. Under the bill, police officers would have no power to arrest such terrorists."

6. Social Security Benefits, Tax Credits for Illegal Work

* The Senate rejected Senator Ensign's amendment that would have prevented Social Security benefits from being awarded to immigrants for time that they worked illegally in the United States. If the immigration compromise bill before the Senate were enacted into law, an estimated 12 million illegal workers would be able to use their past illegal work to qualify for Social Security benefits.
* Provisions in S. 2611 would require newly legalized immigrants to file tax returns for work they performed while in the U.S. illegally. And while some would be required to pay back taxes, many others could qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which has a maximum payout of $4,400 per year.

7. Costs Over $50 Billion A Year to Federal Government; States Foot The Bill for Immigrant Health Care

* Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation described the bill as a "fiscal catastrophe," and has said the measure would prove to be the largest expansion of government welfare in 35 years. According to Rector, the bill would increase long-term federal spending by at least $50 billion a year.
* The Senate bill does not reimburse state and local governments for health care and education costs related to the millions of undocumented immigrants. While the underlying bill creates a state impact assistance account for future temporary workers, it is an unfunded account.

8. Hurts Small Business

* The Senate approved an amendment by Sen. Obama extending Davis-Bacon "prevailing wage" provisions for guest workers, but not American citizens, in all occupations covered by Davis-Bacon (currently limited to federally paid work). Small businesses would be forced to pay inflated wages to guest workers above the pay American citizens receive for performing the same work.

9. Gives Some Immigrant Workers Greater Job Protection Than American Workers

* As reported by Robert Novak of Chicago Sun Times on May 24, 2006: "The bill supposedly would protect American workers by ensuring that new immigrants would not take away jobs. However, the bill's definition of ‘United States worker' includes temporary foreign guest workers, so the protection is meaningless… Foreign guest farm workers, admitted under the bill, cannot be ‘terminated from employment by any employer ... except for just cause.' In contrast, American ag workers can be fired for any reason."

10. Weak Assimilation/English Requirements

* The Senate approved the Inhofe amendment to make English the national language and require those seeking citizenship to demonstrate English proficiency and understanding of U.S. History. However, a far weaker amendment by Sen. Salazar gutted the Inhofe amendment, leaving it in doubt, and also giving immigrants the right to demand the federal government communicate with them in any language they choose.

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