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Public Statements

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I wish to commend those who have worked on the immigration bill. I know their hearts are in the right place and they have attempted to come together to solve a very critical issue for our country and they are to be commended for their efforts.

I understand that if we call up an amendment, it will be objected to, and I think that is unfortunate. As the country sees, if we are going to have an immigration bill, then we need to have a real, full debate on all aspects of that bill and each Senator should have opportunities to offer amendments.

I think the bill has a lot of good in it. I think a lot of positive things have come through. However, there are two or three critical errors I believe that are incorporated in the bill. Quite frankly, one of them is the bill's plan, in terms of guest workers and managing the load of the Z visa holders. There is not the capability out there right now to do that.

I have an amendment which creates a real trigger, and that is what everybody in this country wants.

The reason there is a stir in the country about immigration today comes from the very fact that we have had laws on the books that we haven't enforced. When you have a free society and you have laws on the books that are not enforced, you get all sorts of untoward expectations that come about out of that. The No. 1 expectation that has come out of that is the American people don't trust us when it comes to immigration. I believe we have to earn back that trust. The way we earn back that trust is to secure the border. The way we earn back that trust is to enforce employer verification. The way we earn back that trust is internal enforcement.

The goals, as I said, of those who have worked hard in putting this bill together are admirable. However, the trigger is anything of a trigger, and it is something that would not accomplish its purpose.

I ask unanimous consent at this time that the pending amendment be set aside and amendment No. 1311 be called up.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?

Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, I was in consultation. Could the Senator restate his request? I apologize to him.

Mr. COBURN. Amendment No. 1311.

Mr. KENNEDY. The Senator chooses to call up his amendment.

Mr. President, reserving the right to object, what we were attempting to do is, as we have been moving from one side to the other, Republican and Democrat, to have the introduction of amendments on both sides. That is what we would like to do. We have had a flurry right now of amendments. I hope we get an opportunity--I think, quite frankly, there are more amendments on that side than on this side, as a factual matter.

What they have tried to do is match amendment for amendment on both sides. That has been what they have tried to do through the day today. Whether that will be the way it will be in the future, I don't know. As I mentioned, there are more amendments on that side. So, obviously, we are going to have to deal with more. At the present time, they are trying to match one side with the other side in terms of amendments. So I hope that if we have amendments on this side, the Democrats would notify us so we can match them up and propose them together.

I necessarily have to object at the present time. I hope we will not have to object when we get our final list. To try to maintain at least that balance, which was at least the way we were attempting to proceed, I have to do it at the present time. I will do everything in my power to make sure that, having done so, his amendment will certainly be considered in a timely way so it doesn't work to his disadvantage.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.

The Senator from Oklahoma is recognized.

Mr. COBURN. I trust the Senator's integrity. But it is unfortunate for the American people, and also for the Senate, that we use a ruse that we have to have offsetting amendments be heard, when the fact is we are going to bring this amendment up, and we are not going to debate it tonight. The fact is it is going to be objected to being called up and being in the queue.

That overshadows the fact that I know the Senator would like to have a full and fair debate on this bill, but it seems we cannot get together to allow that. I will come back multiple times tomorrow to offer this same amendment and try to get it up. It is unfortunate that the body has to work this way tonight because we don't want to truly, in fact, allow all of the amendments on this bill.

With that, I yield the floor.

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