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Public Statements

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. SALAZAR. Mr. President, I come to the floor this morning to urge my colleagues to vote yes on cloture as we bring this debate to a very pivotal point.

As I come to the floor this morning, I am reminded of the millions of phone calls and letters that everybody has received in this Chamber. Many of those phone calls and those letters, those demonstrations have been filled with hate and with venom. They have been filled with hate and with venom.

We are the United States of America because we are able to bring our Government together to function on behalf of the people of this country. So for all of those who have sent arrows in the direction of the profiles in courage who have been working on this issue for the last 2 years, I say to them: Remember the prayer of Cesar Chaves of the United Farm Workers in which he said: Help us love even those who hate us. Help us love even those who hate us so that we can change the world--so that we can change the world.

Much of the venom we have seen around this issue has to do with the fact that people are afraid. People are afraid. I ask my colleagues to join us in looking forward and not being afraid because what makes people afraid today is that we have a system of chaos, a system of broken borders, a system of victimization.

So how do we move forward to create a system of law and order of which we in the United States of America can be proud? How do we do that? Well, we have done our best. We have put forward a proposal that says the porous borders we have in America are not good for America. The national security of the United States of America demands--demands--that we move forward and secure those borders. So we have done it in this legislation, and we have included the funding to be able to secure those borders.

Second of all, for more than the last 20, 25 years, what has happened is that the United States of America has looked the other way as our immigration laws have been broken time after time. So for the first time, what we have done with this legislation is we have said we are going to enforce the laws. We are going to have tough employer sanctions against employers who hire those who are unauthorized to work in our country. We are even going to criminalize their conduct. So we will enforce the laws of our Nation.

Thirdly, we take the 12 million undocumented workers who are here in America, and we say: You are going to pay a fine. You are going to be punished. You are going to learn English. You are going to have to go to the back of the line, and then after some time on the average of 11, 12 years, between 8 and 13 years, if you do all the things we require of you, including paying these very high fines and paying all of the processing fees required, then at that point in time, you will have an opportunity to become a citizen if you so choose.

To me, that is a commonsense solution to the national security issue which is at stake in this debate. It also is a commonsense solution for a nation that prides itself in enforcing our laws. We are not like other countries around the world that don't enforce our laws, but we will be.

So I say this to my colleagues on the other side: I respect you. I respect you for what you do here and for how you bring a civil debate to the issues that we deal with every day. But at the end of the day, if we don't get this done today with this cloture vote, it is going to mean the national security of the United States of America will continue to be compromised into the future for who knows how long. It will mean we will continue to be a nation that does not enforce our laws on immigration within this country, and it will mean we will have failed to develop a realistic and honest solution to the 12 million undocumented workers who labor in America every day.

So I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on this cloture motion that we have coming up.


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