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Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, to me it is rather astonishing the extent to which we are discussing this historic immigration bill and how little our focus has been on the real impact of it, what immigration means, how to make it better, how to serve the national interests to do the kinds of things the American people want us to do. We really talked about a lot of hot-button issues, but we have not focused on the substance of what we are doing, how many people the country can absorb legally every year. We do 1 million legally every year. How many more can we assimilate effectively and have reasonable expectations that they would find good work in America, to be able to have them find work but not put Americans out of work, and what kinds of skill sets do we need most? Will our system of enforcement work? And there are many other questions like that.
So I would say that to some degree we have missed that discussion. We are told that today--now we are going on 11 o'clock--we will see a magic amendment, the amendment that fixes everything, that we can just relax and go home and take a good nap because we have an amendment that is going to fix all of the problems in the legislation. Well, that is odd because we were told when the bill was announced that it was the toughest legislation ever, that it fixed everything, it did not need any improvement, we are all OK with it, you all just pass it, and if you raise questions about it--as I did--then you are not a good fellow, you are not being nice if you point out problems.
Apparently, now the sponsors of the bill have realized that they have a lot of problems, that as the bill has been examined and actually read--the thousand pages of it here, it has been read and studied--more and more and more problems have been found with it.
We have had a great deal of discussion about the border. The border security issue is a very important issue, but it is one of the issues in establishing a good lawful immigration system that serve the national interests. It's just one of the issues. It was nothing like the bill's sponsors promised. It would not have accomplished the job.
Those of us who were asking the tough questions--people tried to dismiss the concerns. They finally had to deal with the issue that it did not do what they promised. It was a big problem. So now they have accepted an amendment, it appears, that would change the legislation quite a bit--at least with regard to the border. That was talked about a lot because it always symbolizes whether we are serious about enforcement.
It was so weak in the legislation. When the bill first started, they proposed spending $6.5 billion on border security. Then, as it went through committee and complaints arose, they went up to $8.3 billion--about a 30-percent increase. Then the bill hit the floor and the American people began to find out how weak it was, and our phones started ringing--almost in a panic, it seems.
A group has met in secret. They have announced the Corker-Hoeven agreement to spend $38 billion, to add 20,000 agents. It is all fixed. Vote for the bill. Now you have no excuse. You have to vote for the bill. But if you are holding a bucket of water and it has a bunch of holes in it and you close one of the holes, all of the water is still going to run out of the bucket.
There are other problems with the legislation. There was just one problem that was so dramatic and so plainly contrary to the promises the sponsors had made for their bill that it was really devastating. Now, in total retreat and capitulation, they have talked about adding 20,000 agents and spending $38 billion on the border.
We do not want to hear you guys complain anymore. Now you just hush and pass our bill. Do not talk about what else is in it. Do not talk about the policy issues that are raised by the legal flow of immigration we have. You just pass the bill now because we answered the border security problem.
Well, this is not the way it is going to be. We should be able to do dramatic things and effective things at the border with $38 billion, but, as I will point out in a little bit, we are not sure at all that is going to happen in an effective, smart way, especially when it has come up in this
fashion and especially since we have passed laws repeatedly that mainly require certain things to happen and then they never happen, such as fencing.
We said the last time we passed a bill that we had to build 700 miles of double-layer fencing. Well, that was in 2008, I believe. Today we have 36 miles of double-layer fencing and about 300 miles of pedestrian fencing. So now they say they have their 700 miles. Well, it remains to be seen if that will ever happen, No. 1, but, No. 2, it is not double-layer, as we passed in law previously. That never happened. It is just a single-layered fence, which is much easier to penetrate. A double-layered fencing system with a vehicular ability to move between the fences is very, very effective. It has proven effective before. That is why it was put in the bill--not because someone wanted to sound tough but because it will work.
Things that really work tend to be blocked in the Senate. Things that would actually make the system transform from illegality to legality have always been blocked, in my experience, since I have been in the Senate. It is amazing to me in that regard.
We have not seen the amendment. We were told we would have it last night at 6 o'clock. We were on track to have a series of amendment votes, some important amendments to be voted on. We were getting ready to do that. All of a sudden, it was announced that an agreement had been reached and a new amendment had been offered. This amendment was going to fix the border. It was going to spend more money than ever. Nobody now had a right to complain about the immigration bill before us, S. 744. We had it fixed. The series of amendments we thought we had--no votes were cast on them.
Actually, the night before, a tentative agreement had been reached to vote on as many as 16 amendments. That would have been a nice start to begin the discussion, allow people to point out that there is a weakness in the bill and propose a solution to fix it. That is the way legislation is supposed to go. You bring forth an amendment and you say: This bill lacks this. This provision in the bill is wrong. I have a fix for it. This is my offer. This is my amendment.
That is the way good legislation should be processed in the Senate. That was all stopped.
So we waited--6 o'clock, 7 o'clock, 8 o'clock, 9 o'clock, 10 o'clock. I think it was 10:30 when we departed and still there appeared no magic amendment that is going to fix every problem with the legislation. No magic amendment. Here we are at 11 o'clock and we still have not seen it. Frankly, I would like to read it. I am going to read it. We read this one. It did not do what the sponsors said. They had good talking points. I could have voted for the talking points. I liked what they said, basically, in the talking points, but it was not in the bill. That is the problem.
I have been a Federal prosecutor for many years. It is the law that gets enforced, not some Senator's talking point. That is worthless. It is what is in the bill. It requires and directs agents to do this and that. It requires judges to do this and that. It requires law enforcement officers to do this and that. So what counts is what is in that bill.
With regard to this new amendment, I would like to ask a couple of things to Senators HOEVEN and CORKER. Does your amendment put enforcement before the legality? Does it put enforcement before amnesty?
Is this before the first legalization is allowed to occur, or is the amnesty still first? They told us initially they were going to have enforcement first. By a 4-to-1 margin the American people have said they are prepared to treat with compassion the people who have entered the country illegally, have been here for a long time and done, otherwise, the right things. We are prepared to be compassionate and deal with them--but we don't trust Washington. We want to see you do the enforcement before you give this legal status.
This is common sense. There is nothing wrong with that. The American people aren't mean spirited when they say that. They have seen this game before. They have seen how it has been played before. They don't have confidence in us. I can cite example after example after example of laws, rules, promises made, and never carried out.
That is why we have such a massive, illegal flow into America and how we have accumulated 11 million people, many of them wonderful people. This isn't the way we want the system to work. I think that is the question, why do we have amnesty first again.
Senator Grassley, our ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, has repeatedly said: I was here in 1986, and I voted for the amnesty in 1986. I thought it was going to work, and it was a mistake. We should have seen it was not going to work. We had the amnesty first. We had promised to do all kinds of enforcement in the future, and that never happened. This is why we are at this spot again today. That is the history of it.
What about the fencing that is promised in the bill? Does the amendment require any fence to be built before the amnesty is granted? I want to know that when we see your amendment. Do we have any confidence that we will ever see the fence built any more than we saw it when we passed laws previously to build fences that never occurred?
Does your amendment require a biometric exit system as required by current law? Under current law the Congress of the United States has required that the executive branch create an entry-exit visa system that is biometric. It basically means you use your fingerprints. Your fingerprints are read so you can't bring in a document and say I am John Doe and not be John Doe. When you come into the country, your fingerprints are recorded. When you go out of the country, your fingerprints are recorded. You clock out like many companies do in the workplace. You put your card in and your time is accounted for. We know when you came, when you left, did you overstay, or did you depart as required by law.
Current law says we will do that. You will be fingerprinted when you enter, and that is done. You are fingerprinted when you enter the country, but what has never been done is the exit system when you depart the country. Every kind of excuse has been made for that, but the truth is there is no excuse for not doing that.
Does this amendment fix that problem? The experts tell us, and the Congressional Budget Office reported a few days ago, that we are going to see an increase in visa overstays under this bill and the trends we are facing. There are several reasons for this. One big one is the legal flow of workers into our country; guest workers who come to take jobs, work for certain periods of time, will double. CBO predicts you are going to have an increase of the number of people who overstay their visas.
Since we have no ability to clock people when they depart, it becomes unenforceable. I think they are exactly right about that. Right now the entry visa system is responsible for 40 percent of illegal entries into the United States. Visa overstays account for approximately 40 percent of the current illegal population.
I think we can expect, with the large increase in guest worker programs--well over 50 percent in the future responsible for illegal entries into the country.
Does this amendment fix that, Senator Hoeven and Senator Corker? This is half of the problem, more than half of the problem, frankly, if this bill passes. I don't believe it is likely to do so.
Current law says there shall be a biometric entry-exit at all air, sea, and land ports. What does this bill say? The toughest bill ever, they say. Does that make it stronger? Does it fix the weakness in the current system? No. It says you have to have an electronic system--much weaker than biometric. It says you have to have it only at air and sea ports but not at land ports.
This bill is plainly weaker than current law.
I will ask this to the amendment sponsors: Does it actually have a mechanism to require those who receive the amnesty to pay back Federal, State, and local taxes? Is that part of the deal? That is what has been touted, we have been told repeatedly. They are going to pay back taxes. Let me say, it is not going to happen under this legislation. There is no way this is even going to create an attempt by the IRS to go back and try to investigate persons to see who owes more taxes.
That is a talking point. Talking points aren't law. Talking points aren't reality. They are political weapons used to advance the agenda of those who have special interests.
I would ask this question: Does your amendment require those who receive amnesty to learn English? They say our bill requires people to learn English, but it doesn't, as you can plainly tell if you read the legislation. Illegal immigrants will immediately receive legal status under this bill. After they have been here for ten years or, for some, only five years, they can adjust to legal permanent resident status. At the end of 10 years in RPI status, if you speak English, then you can adjust to LPR status. If you are not speaking English and you are in a course, then they have to give you permanent legal status. You don't have to pass the course. All you have to do in your 9th year, the 10th month, is sign up for an English course somewhere, and get your legal status under the bill. Would that loophole be fixed?
Does the amendment, my colleagues, prohibit people with multiple DUIs from receiving amnesty? Do you do anything about that loophole?
Does your amendment require that anyone applying for amnesty actually be interviewed? This is one of the big shocking weaknesses in the legislation.
When a person is transformed from a person in illegal status to an RPI status, the legal status, which happens in a few months, what do we do to make sure that person isn't a known criminal? That person could be a terrorist. What do we do about that? Normally, one of the most valuable things that can be done in these processes is to interview the person.
It appears quite plainly this bill--the bill certainly
does not require interviews. It is almost certain that DHS will not undertake them voluntarily either, having seen how Homeland Security is handling the DACA program. There are reports that USCIS is not interviewing those applicants face to face. This is a big weakness in the system. It is almost guaranteed that nobody is going to be interviewed face to face and actually examined to see if the paperwork they are submitting has any validity at all. Many times that meeting can identify a weakness in the paperwork and lead to further investigation. If you don't have interviews and you otherwise aren't smart about how you administer it, large numbers of people can get status they don't deserve through utilizing fake documents. We can expect that to happen, and it should not happen.
We are being generous under this bill with regard to the people who would be given legal status, but only those who qualify should get it. People who don't qualify should not get it, or we are perpetuating illegality again indefinitely into the future.
Does the amendment prohibit those who have domestic violence convictions from receiving the legal status? Not so in the bill today.
Does the amendment ensure those who do not receive amnesty would actually be deported in the future? A lot of people will not qualify. They should not have amnesty. We come to find out they have been convicted of a felony, drug dealing, assault with intent to murder, robbery. Should they be given amnesty? No, we say, they shouldn't be given amnesty. Well, do they get to stay here if they are identified, found, and arrested for some other crime? Shouldn't they be deported? We need to be sure the persons who do not qualify are going to be deported.
I have an amendment that is a serious amendment that would help move us from this present failed system, to one that could actually work, to deal with interior enforcement and deportation in a proper manner.
I have a letter that came in from June 19, 2013, addressed to Senators CORKER and HOEVEN from the National Immigration Customs Enforcement Council of the American Federation of Government Employees, signed by Mr. Chris Crane, their very able, competent president. This is what Mr. Crane said, writing on behalf of the 7,600 agents and officers:
According to the National Journal, you are working on an amendment with members of the Gang of Eight to ``help pass a bill.'' I am concerned that your amendment as outlined in the article not only provides immediate legalization before enforcement, but also appears to completely neglect interior enforcement. S. 744 drastically reduces the ability of ICE officers to do their jobs while providing legal status to convicted criminals, including gang members, drunk drivers, and sex offenders.
I can assure you these are not the types of ``reforms'' sought by the American public, in fact, these are not reforms at all but, instead provisions written by special interest groups concerned only with their own political agendas and future financial gains.
This is a man who heads the law officers association, who has had his officers blocked from enforcing the law by political directives from the supervisor. It is a plain fact. They have negated the ability of the law of America to be enforced.
Any plan is doomed to fail that does not empower ICE agents to enforce the laws enacted by Congress--and that does not put an end to the unlawful abuse of prosecutorial discretion by political appointees.
There is some history to this. The ICE officers are in an uproar. The morale of the ICE officers was ranked near the absolute bottom of 170-something government agencies. They are out there risking their lives dealing with criminals and people in violation of the law. What did they hear from their political supervisors? Don't enforce the law. Don't follow through on what you are required to do by congressional action. They have actually filed a lawsuit against their supervisors because they are being told by the supervisors not to do what they took an oath to do, which is to enforce the law.
Mr. Crane states:
Yet, instead of cracking down on the Administration's abuse of power, S. 744 places unprecedented new restrictions on interior enforcement--making the current situation much worse and much more hazardous. It is as if S. 744 were explicitly written to handcuff law enforcement officers--binding their hands while giving virtually unchecked authority to executive branch officials to prevent future removals, including removals of criminal aliens.
These are the people doing the job every day. They were never talked to. They asked to meet with the Gang of 8. No, they didn't want to hear from them. The Gang of 8 wanted to hear from their special friends. They wanted to hear from the special business groups who wanted cheap labor. They wanted to hear from big labor. They wanted to hear from La Raza. They wanted to hear from special interest groups, and they heard from them--the chamber of commerce and ag industrial groups. That is who met with them. That is who wrote the bill--those special interests along with the American Immigration Lawyers Association. I assure you they have put into this bill, in place after place after place, where now they can file cases, appeals, and create disorder within the normal operating system of immigration.
Mr. Crane goes on to say:
Absent drastic improvements to the interior enforcement provisions, there is no doubt that S. 744 will undermine the constitutional rule of law, guarantee future illegal immigration, and place the public at risk.
That is a dramatic statement, and I am not seeing it anywhere close to being refuted. As to the question, does it guarantee future illegal immigration, look, the Congressional Budget Office did the report for us. They are nonpartisan. They serve all of us. We have a Democratic Senate majority and Mr. Elmendorf was picked by them, but he is a fair man. He said we would only see a 25-percent reduction in the number of illegal entries into America if this bill is passed.
Our colleagues promised it was going to end the illegality; that it was going to be the toughest bill ever. The Congressional Budget Office this week said this legislation will reduce illegality only by 25 percent. That is just not acceptable. That is not acceptable. We have been told so much different, and Mr. Chris Crane says the same thing. He goes on to say this:
S. 744 not only fails to contain needed interior enforcement provisions, but weakens interior enforcement. This is because powerful special interests involved in crafting the bill's language are opposed to interior enforcement--a fact ICE officers are all too familiar with. The political agendas of these groups place the public safety and security of our Nation at risk.
I believe he is accurate. I know he cares about what he is doing. Mr. Crane is a very impressive young leader--a marine. He loves his country. He believes this bill is bad for America and he has had the courage to state that and his association has backed him up on it. They are all in it together, I guess. He goes on to say this, in addressing the sponsors of the amendment:
As respected political leaders, I am asking you both to work with me and others in Congress and law enforcement in ensuring that this bill puts the safety of America before powerful special interests.
I think that is a very important letter. It cannot be that our colleagues can promote a piece of legislation as being the most effective improvement in history when our own officers who are out there trying to enforce the law say it makes it worse. It is very disappointing.
I wanted to kind of tease my colleagues a little bit about this amendment that we are still waiting to see. It hasn't appeared yet. We thought we were going to have it at 6 o'clock last night, then 7, then 8, then 9, then 10, then 10:30, and now it is 11:20 the next morning and we still haven't seen it. Presumably it must be OK, though, because it is going to fix everything we need to be concerned about.
Senator Schumer, in the markup in the Judiciary Committee, in talking about enforcement, said this. This was all about Mr. Cornyn, our able Senator from Texas, who offered an amendment in the markup in the Judiciary Committee to enhance enforcement at the border and do a lot of different things he thought were important and add 5,000 new Border Patrol agents. So what did our colleagues who had written the bill--the Gang of 8--who said they were going to stick together and fight off any amendment that had any significance to it--and they all rallied and fought off the Cornyn amendment, too--what did they say about Senator Cornyn's steps to make the legal system work better and to add some new agents to the border? Being a Texas Senator, he is familiar with those issues. Senator Schumer said this:
Just on the border alone, Senator McCain and I had an amendment a few months ago that spent--a few years ago, rather, that spent about $600 to $800 million on the border and effectiveness rate went up from 68 to 82. We spent much more than that, as much as $6.5 billion.
In other words, they spend in this bill, they say, $6.5 billion, as I mentioned earlier.
This is what he goes on to say:
The border will effectively be closed, we believe, with these expenditures, in the way they will be done.
If he is going to spend a total of $6.5 billion in this bill and effectively close the border, how is it he is now supporting an amendment that would add 20,000 agents to the border? Because the bill is in trouble and they are in panic mode, I would suggest.
A little later, in the same markup, referring to the Border Patrol agents, he said this:
Their numbers have gone way, way up and most people think they're an adequate number.
Why, that was just May 9, a little over 1 month ago. He said they were an
adequate number; that we don't need any more Border Patrol agents, and they attacked Senator Cornyn for having the temerity to suggest we needed 5,000 more. Now, when the bill is in trouble and they are in panic mode, they are coming in with an amendment--though we haven't seen it yet--they claim will add 20,000 Border Patrol agents.
Back in the markup on May 9, Senator Schumer said this:
Look, our goal is to make the border much more secure and we do. We do dramatically.
If it does all that, why do we need a new amendment? The point I am making, what I am saying is the talking points of the bill sponsors have been positive, positive, positive throughout. They say the things people want to hear. The question is, does our legislation do what people want done? That is the question.
Back then he said we are doing all you want, the border is effectively closed, we don't need any more agents.
Senator Flake, in talking about Senator Cruz from Texas, who offered an amendment in the Judiciary Committee markup on the border, and ably did so, said this:
We add in our legislation 3,500 new customs agents. That's at a cost of about $6 billion--3,500. What we're talking about here is tripling border patrol. It's currently at about 21,000. Take it to 60,000. So 40,000 new agents. We're talking about $30, $40 billion to do that. ..... and I know it's sincere--a desire to--to put more resources on the border, but we have fiscal restraints here.
So he opposed it, one of the Gang of 8 Members.
At the markup, Senator Schumer said:
And so, to simply for us to dictate, when we are not the experts, to quadruple border patrol, is, in my opinion, something, you know, that you might accuse me of: throwing money at a problem without really knowing what its effect would be.
He goes on to say on the floor, in talking about this bill on June 11, just a week or so ago, before the Corker amendment had ever been dreamed of:
Make no mistake our border will be secured as a result of this bill. We appropriate $6.5 billion upfront in this bill to bolster our security efforts. That is in addition to the annual appropriations made for each year of border security.
That must not have been accurate. He said the bill had taken care of it; that they have an adequate amount in the bill as it is, and now this would add 20,000 more Border Patrol agents. Again, the point is, we get positive spin no matter what the circumstances are because they are out to sell this bill. They are out to promote their creation, and they have lost sight of what it actually does. They have truly lost sight, in my opinion, of the fundamental responsibility of important legislation, which is not to achieve a political end but to achieve a better America, to serve the national interest.
I am going to continue to ask: Does this bill serve the interest of the people of the United States of America? Not economically and not legally, in my opinion.
Now this is Senator McCain, on June 18, just the other day:
But those who think we need more people--we do need more people to facilitate movement across our ports of entry.
He says it is too slow; that we want more people to come in quicker. Continuing to quote Senator McCain:
But we have 21,000 border patrol. Today there are, on the Arizona-Mexico, there are people sitting in vehicles in 120-degree heat. What we need is not more people, because we've gone--in 1986 we had 4,000 border patrol to 21,000, but what we need is the technology that has been developed in the intervening years.
So he says what we need is not more people, and what he means is we don't need more Border Patrol agents, that we need some more technology. That is what they said last time when they undermined the fence. Some may remember the phrase they used then was that we are going to create a ``virtual fence.'' We are going to create a high-tech fence. We don't need to build those old fences. That is not good. We are going to take care of it with technology. So we spent, as Senator McCain said on the floor, I think it was $980 million on a virtual fence at our borders that utterly failed. We got nothing for it. What else didn't we get? We didn't get the fence. We wasted $1 billion on a failed technology and didn't build the fence that was promised.
This is why the American people are not confident that anything politicians tell them, about immigration particularly, will ever happen, and the American people are right. Time and again, politicians have promised, promised, promised and never delivered, delivered, delivered. That is just a fact. I think this bill and these statements say a lot.
With regard to Senator Cornyn's amendment that would add 5,000 agents and do some other things, this is what Senator Schumer said back in the committee in May, just this last month:
And what we have learned, and it was hit home to me when Senator Flake and Senator McCain took me to the Arizona portion of the border, it's vast. We have more people on the border patrol. What's the number? 21,000. I think it was triple what it was 5 years ago. But you can't have--yeah, if you want to have the whole Federal budget, you guys figure out how you're going to spend and get that money, the whole Federal budget on just the border patrol? You could probably have 100 percent operational control.
So he was saying then don't question our bill. This does all we need. We don't have the money to spend more on it. Now, apparently, he is trumpeting the great bipartisan agreement that would add 20,000 more Border Patrol people.
Maybe we need more Border Patrol agents and we need to use technology and we need to use fences wisely, but what we need is a Secretary of Homeland Security who knows what they are doing, who is committed to ending the illegality and using every resource we have wisely to confront this illegality and ending it.
If we had that the last 4 years, we would have had far more reduction in illegality on the border than we have seen, and we would be in a much better position to go to the American people and say let's talk about amnesty now because we have proven we have made real progress. But they have never wanted to do that. They have been listening to the voices out there and the political interests and the special interests, and they have not done it.
Now we have 11 million people here. What is their solution? Surrender to the illegality. Just give up. We will just give amnesty to everybody here and we will pass a law and we promise it will fix things and we do not really worry whether it does or not. I can tell you it will not, it will not fix it.
There are a lot of things that are noteworthy. I would like to talk about them as we go forward on this legislation. One of them I think is interesting, and I am just going to raise it because it is an issue we need to confront. We hear it a lot. People are talking like this out there. Bill O'Reilly's talking points memo is consistently a high-grade memo that has valuable insights that I think Americans would do well to listen to on a regular basis. He is a very insightful individual.
In regard to what he said last night, I got a transcript of it. I think it shows some of the misconceptions about the legislation that we simply have to correct. It is not sufficient to pass this legislation based on talking points, on spin from the sponsors of the bill. We have to say: OK, does it really do that? How does it do it? Can it be made better? Are there weaknesses?
This is what Bill O'Reilly said last night:
Senator Rubio told me on the phone today that it would be at least 13 years--13--before people in the country illegally right now could gain full legal working status and even longer to achieve citizenship.
We will talk about that. He goes on to say:
"Talking Points'' support immigration reform even though I well understand the new law will be somewhat chaotic and it will be a magnet for even more people to come here illegally, which is why we need stepped up security.
Let's go back to that first statement. It said there ``would be at least 13 years before people in the country illegally right now could gain full legal working status.'' Not so. Not so at all. Not even close. Within a few months everyone who applies for the RPI status, the provisional status, will be given a Social Security card and the right to go to work and be lawful in the country and they cannot be deported unless they commit a serious crime. It is virtually immediately, not 13 years.
It says ``even longer to achieve citizenship.'' That is not accurate either. This is how the citizenship and green card status works, the permanent legal status: Within months, everybody who qualifies under the 11 million will be given RPI, provisional status, virtually immediately. They will be able to take any job in America, move anywhere they want to in America, displace workers in America, and compete for jobs wherever. That is what will happen under the bill.
For about 2.5 million who were people who came here as teenagers, the so-called DREAMers, they get citizenship in 5 years. They will have citizenship in 5 years. That is 2.5 million. Certain agricultural workers, those individuals who are illegally here, become permanent legal residents. They get their legal right to work immediately. But in 5 years they get permanent legal status, and the other 8 to 10 million illegal immigrants would be eligible for green cards or legal permanent residence in 10 years, not 13.
There is an immediate amnesty that precedes all this. Legal status and the right to work is immediate. It is not 13 years. A large number of persons will be able to have citizenship within 5 years--25 percent, maybe, will be getting that.
I think our people who are commenting about this need to get away from the spin of the sponsors and spin of those who are vested in trying to pass the bill and get down to what the bill actually says. That is very important.
The sponsors of the bill, Senator Schumer and others, claim the bill is paid for, and they have all the money needed to fund the legislation. They claim this Congressional Budget Office report that came out the other day backs them up. But it does not. It does not back them up.
I am ranking member on the Budget Committee, and we need to talk about that in some detail because it is a very important matter. CBO does not back that up. The CBO report showed this bill reducing deficits in the next decade, according to the sponsors of the bill, but in fact CBO plainly states on page 12 of the report that the legislation will increase on-budget deficits over that time--increase deficits of the on-budget accounts.
Why? Because the newly legalized immigrants will be paying some payroll taxes--they will be paying the payroll taxes, Social Security, FICA, Medicare taxes that are withheld from workers' pay--but they are not drawing Social Security benefits at this time because most of them are younger than that and they are not yet past 65.
So that creates a surplus flow, right? Of the $459 billion in new taxes and fees, only about half of that comes from the income taxes these workers are going to pay. Why? Because most of the workers are low-income workers. Over half of the people who are here illegally do not have a high school diploma and they are not making real high wages. You have to earn a pretty sizable wage before you pay any income tax, although you do pay your Social Security, Medicare withholding--the payroll tax.
How do they then say they have money created to pay for all this stuff? They count the money from the payroll taxes, OK? That makes sense, you think, at first glance. But that, by rights, though, belongs to the Social Security trust fund. That is not money available for the government to spend on trips to Africa or some summit somewhere or for Solyndras. That is Social Security money. Using this money to offset other spending is an accounting trick that was used to pass ObamaCare, and it is not right.
Let's go back over that again. The on-budget account--income tax coming in from the legalization because some people who are legalized are going to pay more income tax--but there are a lot of expenses out there too. The earned-income tax credit is a direct payment, not a tax deduction but a direct welfare means-tested payment to poorer workers. That is a big cost. And there are other costs.
So the CBO said income taxes that are paid will be less than the cost of the immigration; therefore, adding $14 billion to the on-budget debt of America. But the sponsors of the bill want to claim their legislation pays for itself. They say: But they are going to be paying Social Security and Medicare taxes; therefore, we want to count that money and that will prove that we paid for the bill.
Really? Aren't the individuals who are now given a Social Security number, allowed to work and pay the payroll taxes--aren't those taxes supposed to be put into a trust fund for their Social Security and Medicare benefits when they do get to be 65? Absolutely. Any surplus money that goes into Social Security and Medicare is not free money given to the U.S. Treasury to spend to pay for border control agents. That money is loaned by the trust funds. They get a Treasury bill in exchange for it. The U.S. Government pays them interest on the money that the Social Security loaned to them. It is their money. It is the trust fund's money.
A lot of people try to deny that, but there actually is one. There are debt instruments showing the transfer of this money, and interest payments are paid by the U.S. Treasury. So you can't count the money that people pay into Social Security as being money that can be used to spend on other programs of the government. That is an important issue.
Mr. Elmendorf, the Director of CBO, the night before the President's health care bill passed--I prevailed upon him to write a letter to explain that. He wrote a letter and said you can't simultaneously--what had happened in ObamaCare was they cut Medicare costs and increased Medicare payroll taxes and used that money to fund his new health care program. They claimed that it strengthened Medicare and at the same time provided money to fund ObamaCare. Mr. Elmendorf used a sentence that I thought was very powerful. I think I can recall it.
He said: You can't simultaneously use the money to strengthen Medicare and pay for a new program. He used the phrase ``double count,'' the kind of things people in business go to jail for. He said that is double counting the money.
This is exactly what has happened here. The money that goes to people's Social Security and Medicare trust fund accounts is not enough now to pay for the amount of money the individual will claim when they become 65 and start retiring and using health care and Social Security checks every month. There is not enough now. You certainly can't claim that this is going to strengthen these programs and provide money for the government to use outside of these programs. According to CBO, that is precisely what this immigration bill does with respect to Social Security. I feel strongly about that.
Mr. President, I see no one else here. I yield the floor at this time and reserve the remainder of my time.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
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