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Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SESSIONS. What is the order, if I might ask?


Mr. SESSIONS. There you go.


Mr. SESSIONS. Inquiry. Was that by unanimous consent?


Mr. SESSIONS. That explains it, then.


Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for up to 15 minutes.


Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, I know Senator Schumer and the Gang of 8 have worked hard on this legislation. I respect their efforts and goals. I share their goals, and I share many of the principles they stated. But what we learned is that the legislation came nowhere close to fulfilling those goals. That is why, here in the middle of the debate after the bill has been exposed, after it has been hammered for failure after failure, they have come up with a bill that says: Don't worry now. We are going to throw 20,000 agents at the border, and now you all have to vote for it because we fixed it. Now you got what you wanted.

I say to my colleagues, too often the phrase ``border security'' has been used to include all legal and illegal activities that occur. What we know is that not only do we have problems at the border, 40 percent of the people who are here illegally today are visa overstays. CBO's report, which just came out, indicates that is going to grow--as I had predicted it would--in the future. We are going to have twice as many people come to the country on visas, and they are coming to take jobs--jobs that Americans need to be prepared to take. We need to get them prepared if they are not already prepared. We need to get them off of welfare and into self-sufficiency so they can make good wages that allow them to pay for their health care and have a retirement plan with enough left over to take care of their families. That has not been happening. Wages for average American workers have been declining since 1999, and it is a serious problem. I thought perhaps initially with the Republican agenda that this was a temporary thing and might bounce back, but we have seen that sustained.

Senator Schumer referred to the Congressional Budget Office score, but he didn't refer to this: This bill will accelerate that decline. Wages will drop more than they would have if the bill didn't pass. CBO found that unemployment would go up. They found that although there would be some increase in the economy, with millions of people coming, per capita, per person, the GDP would decrease. So this is a real problem we need to be honest about.

How large a flow of people can we sustain and create jobs for? Do we want to invite good people to come to America to

take jobs and then they are not here for them? Do we want to bring in so many people that wages for American workers decline or Americans can't get the jobs? But somebody who comes from a very poor country, willing to work at the lowest possible wage--won't that pull down the wages of Americans who were hoping to get a pay raise instead of a pay cut?

I submit that this is a serious issue, and that is why Professor Borjas at Harvard has said it will adversely impact the wages of American workers, particularly low-income American workers. They will face the most adverse economic impact. This fact has not been disputed so far as I can see.

Now, the Senator says the bill is paid for. Know what they do? They count the off-budget money. This is what happened. Under the score the Congressional Budget Office gave to us, they found that it would increase the on-budget deficit by $14 billion. It will increase the on-budget debt of America by $14 billion over a period of 10 years. But they say they have a surplus over 10 years in the off-budget accounts--some $200 billion. They have counted that up and said: We have a net surplus. Hallelujah.

What is the off-budget money? What are we talking about for the off-budget money? That is Social Security money. Everybody who pays into Social Security, when they get ready to retire, is going to draw out that money. It doesn't add to the net financial benefit of America if a person who is here illegally is given a Social Security card, starts paying into Social Security, and will end up drawing from Social Security.

We cannot count the off-budget money. That is how this country has been going broke. We have been using that budget gimmick for way too long, and that is not correct. We should not be doing that, and it is not going to improve the deficit over 10 years. The statement of the Congressional Budget Office and their important report are quite clear about that.

It says some other things. With regard to wages for American workers, the Congressional Budget Office report says that if this bill passes, wages will go down. It says that if this bill passes, unemployment will go up. That is their analysis of it. It has a chart in there that shows that for over 10 or 20 years per capita GDP is below what it would be if the bill had not passed and that wages are going to be low for years to come.

Why in the world would we as Americans want to dramatically increase the legal flow of immigration above our current generous rate and double the guest worker program? In addition to legalizing the 11 million people who would be legalized under the legislation, there are 4.5 million people who will be given speeded-up allocation under the chain migration system. So there will be 4.5 million accelerated under the chain migration as a result of lifting limits on those individuals and the people who are here illegally. In addition to that, we will have a large flow of other workers.

Now, I have an amendment. This is a number of pages of it, some 30 pages, very similar to what the House is working on today. It deals with the visa overstay issue. It deals with people who get into the country legally but don't go home and don't cross the border. It is a growing percentage of the illegality we see today, and it will soon be over half of the illegality, and it certainly will be if this legislation is passed. Does this legislation Senator Schumer refers to fix that problem?

With the amendment, does this legislation solve the complaints of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents? They have written us multiple times. They pleaded to be allowed to meet with the Gang of 8 and to be able to explain the realities of enforcement difficulties in America. We are having an impossible time making enforcement work. Why is this administration blocking them from actual enforcement of the law as they are sworn to do? They voted no confidence in their supervisor, Mr. Morton. They filed a lawsuit against Secretary Napolitano, and they asserted to her that she is blocking them through regulations and policies from enforcing the law they are sworn to enforce. The matter has been in the court, and the court is considering this lawsuit. I have never heard of Federal agents suing because they are not allowed to enforce the law. That is going on in America today. The ICE agents have written us a letter, and they said this legislation will make it worse. They said it will endanger national security.

What about the other part of the immigration process? Citizenship and Immigration Services is a group of officers who have to review the amnesty applications, review applications from abroad, and do those sort of things. Well, what do they say about it? They say the bill will make the situation worse, it will make it impossible for them to do their job. They do not have the capacity to process the 11 million people who are going to be asking for amnesty. It is not going to work. It will make the system worse. They have not been listened to in this process either.

Now, Senator Schumer said--and I hope everybody heard it--we have a plan. Don't worry. We are going to throw 20,000 agents at the border, and now you can quit complaining, you complainers, and just be happy and vote for our bill.

Well, then he said something like: Well, we don't have it written yet. We don't have it written yet, and we are working on it. We are sharing it with our allies, and we have not shown it to anybody else yet. But trust us, we have a bill that will work.

That is what they said when the bill was originally filed. They said they had a sufficient fencing system at the border. We read the bill, and there was no requirement in the bill to build any fences at the border. It was totally up to the Secretary.

So now he seems quite happy--not having been able to run that past the Senate, having been caught on that deal--he is now willing to enhance some fencing. But current law, the law we passed a decade ago, required 700 miles of double-layered fencing, which would actually be very effective. This bill now, after having had the bill endangered, they ran out and said, well, we will do 700 miles of single-layer fencing, which is quite less secure and not what we voted on in the Senate 10 years ago. President Obama voted for it and Vice President Biden voted for it and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voted for it. That has never been done. We promised to do that too. We passed a law, we even passed funding for it, and it never got built. Only 30 miles of the 700 miles of double-layer fencing was ever built.

So this is a problem we have, along with the American people. So I say to Senator Schumer: I want to read this Corker amendment. Who is writing it, Senator Corker, Senator Hoeven, or Senator Schumer? Senator Schumer is telling us what is in it. He is saying he is still working on it. He is saying he is sharing it with his allies but not with those who have doubts about it. I would like to see this bill we have heard so much about. Also, will it deal with other issues?

So we know this: We know the legislation gives amnesty first. We were told originally by the Gang of 8 we were going to have border security first, right? They finally had to acknowledge that isn't so. That is a pretty big promise.

Border security first. Not so in the bill, not so in the Hoeven-Corker amendment. The toughest enforcement ever. Clearly, the bill was weaker than the 2007 bill. Members of the Gang of 8 have acknowledged that. It is nowhere close.

On visas, current law requires that under the visa policy of the United States, we have entry-exit visas, biometric at land, sea, and airports. What does this bill say? This bill says, well, we will have electronic entry-exit visas at air and seaports but not at land ports. And if we don't have the land ports in the mix, then we never know who came into the country if they left by land.

The 9/11 Commission says the system will not work. The system will not work.

Proponents of the bill said an individual would have to pay back taxes. That is so ridiculous. That is utterly unenforceable. It is just a talking point. It has no reality whatsoever.

They said a person has to learn English. Not so. A person can be in a English course 6 months before their time comes up. They don't have to complete the course. That is all it requires.

They say no welfare benefits, but there are benefits as scored by the Congressional Budget Office, the largest of which I suppose is the earned-income tax credit.

They said it would end illegal immigration, and the Congressional Budget Office report, amazingly--


Mr. SESSIONS. I ask unanimous consent for 1 additional minute.


Mr. SESSIONS. Amazingly, the Congressional Budget Office said the bill that is before us would only reduce illegal immigration by 25 percent. So we are going to give amnesty for the toughest bill ever, and all of this. Then the bill gets in trouble on the floor and they scurry around and they get an amendment that throws in, say, 20,000 agents who are going to be hired somewhere on the border in the future. We promise. We are going to give amnesty first, though, and we promise that these agents will all be hired and the problem will be fixed. They promised to build a fence in 2008. It never happened.

So we are going to read this Hoeven-Corker amendment. We are going to evaluate it fairly. It seems to me it doesn't come close to touching all of the issues necessary to have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interests in a way that Americans can be proud of.

We believe in immigration. We want to be compassionate and helpful to people who have been here a long time, but we have to have a system we can count on in the future.

I yield the floor.


Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, would the Senator yield for a question?


Mr. SESSIONS. I think the Senator was very wise in raising the question of the budget score. Our colleagues have been blithely asserting that this bill is going to pay for itself. The CBO produced a report. They have cited that report that says it will pay for itself. That is not exactly what the report says, it seems to me. This is the line in the report the CBO prepared: Net increases or decreases in the deficit resulting from changes in direct spending and revenue from the bill. How will it impact increasing the deficit or not? The on-budget deficit, even before the 20,000 new agents, adds billions of dollars in costs. Netted out, it would add $14 billion to the on-budget debt. That is negative. It makes more debt.

Then there is the other one, the off-budget. What is the off-budget? The off-budget is Social Security and Medicare. This is the trust fund money that comes out of your payroll taxes. People pay payroll taxes. The average age of the legalized group is about 35, so most of them aren't going to be drawing Social Security right away. They pay into this and the government gets some extra money. They are counting that money as the money to show the bill is paid for.

Let me ask the Senator one simple thing. If the individuals who are now given legal status are immediately given a Social Security number, immediately eligible to compete for any job in America, isn't the money they will be paying for Social Security and Medicare going to be used by them when they start drawing it? Aren't they going to be eligible now for Social Security and Medicare? Won't this money be available for them? Isn't it double counting to say it is going to be available for their Social Security and then available to pay for all the spending in their bill?


Mr. SESSIONS. I couldn't agree more. The truth is, that is how this country is going broke. There are two ways the counting is done in our budget. One is a unified accounting process, and the other one shows these numbers in the fashion you and I put forward. They assume the money that comes in for the newly legalized people, Medicare and Social Security, is going to be available for their Social Security and Medicare. They can't then assume it is available to spend on something else. The weakness in our system has been manipulated before. We need to stop it.

I thank the Senator for raising that.

Of course, I remember well how many good years you spent on the Budget Committee, and the Senator understands it very well.

I yield the floor.


Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, could I inquire as to what UC just got agreed to?


Mr. SESSIONS. I appreciate the majority leader. He speaks softly, and I don't hear as well as I should, so I am not sure what we agreed to or what he propounded.


Mr. SESSIONS. I thank the Chair.


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


Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, here we are with an intent to have an amendment that is supposed to solve all the problems of this legislation, and we had it announced earlier this morning, and we have not seen it yet. So we are now here.

Earlier today we thought we had an agreement to have as many as half-a-dozen votes tonight. So we had some today, and we were going to have some more tonight. We have only had nine votes on this legislation as of today. This is really odd.

So we have not seen this bill. We do not know what is in it. Everything has been stopped, waiting on some agreement, as Senator Schumer said, among the allies. He said they are showing the bill to allies. Apparently, they have not shown it to Senator Lee, they have not shown it to me. So the allies of the Gang of 8 are going through the bill. I do not know if they are going to have Nebraska kickbacks in it or ``Cornhusker kickbacks'' or whatever else they are going to put in it to get somebody's vote on it. I hope that is not where we are going.

But what I am concerned about, having been around here a few years now, is that we will have a vote on cloture on this amendment--they are going to file the amendment, immediately file cloture, apparently, and then have that vote early next week--and then have a couple more votes, and the next thing you know, we are at final passage and no amendments of significance have been allowed to occur.

I have a number of amendments. The House has done a really good job on working on the interior enforcement weaknesses of our current law. They put together some good language. I have taken a lot of it and put it into an amendment. I would like to have a vote on that. We ought to talk about it because there is some feeling around here that the only thing that matters is the border, but that is not so. Forty percent of the illegal entries into America today come by visa overstays, and that is not dealt with at all or in any significant way that I am aware of in this new amendment which we have not seen.

So I am worried about this whole process. The American people deserve an open process. It was promised. I do not know how many amendments we had in committee, I say to Senator Lee. Lots of them. But we have only had nine now, and we lost a group that we were going to have today. And we cannot tell from our discussions with Senator Reid and others if there will be any more amendments next week because, I guess, the powers that be, the masters of the universe, have all gotten together and they have decided this: They have decided that everything is fixed by Hoeven-Corker, and we will just pass that amendment and nobody else will be heard. But that amendment, from what I read in the papers about it, in general, does not fix anything like the loopholes and weaknesses of the legislation.

I say to Senator Lee, I appreciate his elegance on this issue, but I did want to share that I feel as if something is going awry in the open, debatable process we thought we were going to have for a day or two. It seems to have jumped off the tracks completely.


Mr. SESSIONS. I am afraid it is becoming par for the

course. I remember we had a bill, a bankruptcy bill, a fourth of this in size. I think it was on the floor 3 weeks, and we had maybe nearly 100 amendments. Everybody had their chance to speak, and we ended up passing the bill with well over 80 votes.

But the point is that in this new mood in the Senate we have a situation in which the majority leader too often fills the tree and controls even the amendments that are brought up.

Does the Senator think it odd, as a new Member of the Senate and as a student of law and Washington governmental processes, that a Senator cannot come to the floor and offer an amendment without seeking permission of the majority leader? And he says: No, I will not take your amendment; I will only take this amendment. Does that strike the Senator as contrary to what his understanding is historically as to how the Senate should operate?


Mr. SESSIONS. Yes, we can do that if we just follow the traditional rules of the Senate. The Senator is exactly right. Here we are being told this legislation, this 1,000 pages, is all decided because somebody has an amendment somewhere that nobody has seen--at least nobody who has any skepticism about it has seen. That is going to solve all of the problems. It is just rather remarkable.

On the fundamental question the Senator raised about the Senate, I do believe that we need to begin to appeal across party lines and think more clearly about what has happened. I talked with one of the great historians of the Senate, someone I have known and has been here, worked on the floor, and has written a book about it. He said he hated to say it, but it is kind of getting like the old Russian Soviet Duma where a group of people met in secret and put out the word, then they all went in and voted 990 to 10 for whatever it was their little group decided.

I am worried that has too much relevance to what has been happening here. I really do. A Senator, as the Senator said, is equal to any other Senator. The majority leader has the power of first recognition, but it was never intended that the majority leader should say: You cannot get your amendment, Senator from Alabama; only the one from Maine can get their amendment, and actually be able to execute that.

It is rather stunning. That was not the way it was when I came. This filling-the-tree process started maybe not long after I came. Both parties have used it. But it has now gone to an extent which we have never seen before, and it adversely impacts the whole Senate. I think the Senator is right about that.

I just saw Senator Portman from Ohio. He had worked extremely hard on a very significant amendment dealing with E-Verify in the workplace. He is not sure he is going to get a vote on it. He thought he was going to get a vote on it. It is very frustrating for him that will not be the case.

What is this? We are not going to be in session tomorrow, apparently. Nobody gets their amendments. Maybe, virtually, no more amendments get brought up of significance.

So I am concerned about it. I have a couple of key amendments. I know Senator Cruz has an amendment too. The Senator may have amendments. Amendments are valuable in that they point out weaknesses in legislation. They provide a fix for that weakness. Why would we want to deny people the right to make a piece of legislation better?


Mr. SESSIONS. The Senator led a press conference this afternoon with a group of tea party patriots. Jenny Beth Martin and a number of other people were there. They came to Washington and had a number of people who had immigrated to America. They spoke from their hearts about laws and rules and proper procedure. Maybe the Senator could share with our colleagues and those who might be listening the gist of that.

I thought it was very moving to have people who came to America, some from countries where they had been persecuted and were so proud of the rule of law, who felt deeply that we need to be careful about what we do in the Senate to preserve the rule of law here.

I thank the Senator for leading that press conference today and letting those individuals, those Americans, speak their minds. Just in general, I would say that whole tea party movement, which many have tried to demean, came right from the heart of America. It represented a deep concern that people in Washington were out of touch, were not connected with the real world, were not following the constitutional processes, were meeting in secret with special interests and trying to win elections and not serving the people in effective ways.

I thought it was good to have them speak out today as they did in opposition to this monstrosity.


Mr. SESSIONS. I thought that group reflected those concerns very well. I think the whole grass roots movement did. As I recall, Senator Lee was involved in the election in many ways. It was a ramming through of the massive health care bill that nobody had read. We were told: Well, you have to pass it to find out what is in it. That generated that whole movement. Is this not in many ways similar? In the Senator's view, does it feel the same that we are moving rapidly through a bill, a massive consequence of over 1,000 pages, and there is a lack of understanding fully of what is in it?


Mr. SESSIONS. I thank the Senator for sharing those insights. It is important, because we are getting to a situation where we are delegating extraordinary power to unelected bureaucrats. What we have seen with regard to the current administration and their enforcement laws is one of the most dramatic, willful, deliberate failures to enforce the law I have ever seen.

It has resulted in a most amazing circumstance. The ICE agents, the Immigration, Customs, and Enforcement agents, who are out there trying to enforce the law every day, who took an oath to enforce the law, have been so directed by their unelected supervisors to not enforce the law. They have reached the point where they have filed a lawsuit in Federal court against their supervisors. They sued Secretary Napolitano, and they said she is issuing directives and orders that contradict with our sworn duty as law officers to enforce the law and follow what Congress directed. Some of this simply came down to the fact that they are required to deport certain people if they are apprehended doing certain things. They just issue guidelines that say don't deport people.

Think about it. Secretary Napolitano and John Morton, her ICE Director, who has now resigned, were directing these agents to do things that undermined their ability to do the most basic part of law. They filed a lawsuit in Federal court. The judge has heard the lawsuit and heard the complaints. The Department of Justice sought to dismiss the complaint initially, and it has not been dismissed. The judge has let it proceed. He, in effect, as I read the news article about it, basically said the Secretary is not above the law. I thought we learned that from Richard Nixon. No President is above the law. Nobody is above the law in America. This lawsuit is still ongoing.

It is one of the most amazing things I have seen, and how little it has been commented on and how significant that is.

We have the Citizenship and Immigration Services officers. Like the ICE officers, they have written Congress and told us they cannot do what the law requires them to do in this bill. They can't do what the law is requiring them to do now. They are overwhelmed by the requirements that have been placed upon them. They said the law that is being considered today, S. 744, makes the situation worse. Both of those agencies have written to Congress and said it would weaken our national security and place our safety at risk in America. It wouldn't make things better, it would make them worse.

I think we need to say how did we get here? I believe we got here fundamentally because well-meaning Senators decided if you are going to pass a bill--we had to have La Raza happy, we had to have the unions happy, we had to have the business groups happy, and we had to have the chicken processors happy, and they all met with them. They met with their pollsters, their political consultants, and the politicians.

Chris Crane, the head of the ICE officers association, wrote them repeatedly, saying: Let me come tell you what it is really like out there. They refused to hear from him. They refused to hear from him and his ideas. He tried everything he could. He wrote them and asked if they would meet with him, and they wouldn't do that.

The legislation was written by people not connected to how the immigration system actually operates. The people tried their best every day to make this system lawful, make it effective, and make it something we can be proud of.

Even under the legislation, it does not require people who want to be citizens and want to be given legal status in America to have a face-to-face meeting with a single person.

In fact, the DREAM Act, the DACA cases that are out there, they are not meeting with them face to face. They just give papers, read those papers, and process them in a way that they have no capability of ascertaining whether those claims of legality are legitimate.

It is very clear from experts in the 9/11 Commission

that face-to-face interviews make a huge difference. One of the hijackers who was supposed to be the terrorist, who was supposed to be on the plane that may have hit the Capitol of the United States or the White House, the one that went down in Pennsylvania, one of those was identified in a face-to-face meeting by an alert officer. He held him up, and he was not on that plane. Who knows, one more terrorist on that plane might have enabled them to control that plane and succeed in wreaking devastation on Washington, DC. Maybe those patriots who brought that plane down, giving their lives to save this Capitol, may not have been able to do so had there been one more terrorist on that plane. I have to say this is important material. I don't know what the language is about the border and how many agents they have there.

I know this, we have had testimony from witnesses and the 9/11 Commission that we need an entry-exit visa system. We already have most of it. When you come into the country, they take your fingerprints, and you are clocked into the country. We are not clocking people out of the country.

The 9/11 Commission, in a followup meeting of that commission to review how America had complied with their original suggestions, repeated their concern that we need this entry-exit visa system. The current law that has been passed, about six times, and is current law today, says we should have a biometric entry-exit visa system at all air, land, and sea ports.

This legislation guts that requirement. It eliminates the biometric, which means you don't use something like a fingerprint, which would be the most common thing to use. It would be some sort of an electronic system that is recognized to be weaker, and it doesn't require it to be in place at the land ports. The 9/11 Commission explicitly reviewed that, and they said the system won't work because people can fly in to Houston, fly in to Los Angeles, go back across the border, fly in to New York and exit through New Mexico. They can do these things and, therefore, the system won't work. We don't know who overstayed and who didn't overstay.

What we learned was it is not too expensive. They claimed it was going to be $25 billion. Where did this figure come from? It was raised in committee, you may remember. Senator Schumer said it will be $25 billion. What we found was they did a pilot project in Atlanta and I believe Philadelphia. People came through to get on a plane to depart America. They put their fingerprints on a machine. They go right on by, and those who are in violation have warrants out for their arrest or are on a terrorist watch list, are picked up.

Amazingly, amazingly, in Atlanta they did 20,000 people as a pilot project. They failed 134, I believe, who had warrants for their arrest and got hits on the watch list. Some of these could be serious offenders.

I think that is one more example of weaknesses in the legislation that apparently are not being addressed. This is one more proof that the bill before us today weakens current law, directly weakening our entry-exit visa system that the 9/11 Commission has said we must complete.

There are a lot of things I am concerned about in the legislation. This is one of them. It has to be fixed. I am afraid we are not on the path to do that. Special interests have opposed that over the years. It has been debated, debated, and debated. Finally a decision has been made. Multiple times Congress has directed this to occur, but it still has not occurred.

I wanted to share that. Maybe the Senator has other thoughts he wishes to share.


Mr. SESSIONS. If the Senator will remember, in committee my able colleague Senator Schumer said this was the toughest bill ever, as I recall. And it was tough as nails. But it looks like now we are being told it wasn't so tough because we have added an amendment that is going to make it tough.

So is that kind of what the Senator is saying when he refers to the talking points, that we have to go beyond the bill? If it was so tough to begin with, why did they have to pass another amendment now to make it a lot tougher now?


Mr. SESSIONS. It is. I think it is like smelling the sizzling steak that turns out to be shoe leather. It sounds good when they talk about it. I said: Wow, that sounds good. And if it accomplished all the things they promised, I would be intrigued by that legislation. It would have a chance to get my vote.

Well, we made a list, just as Senator Lee did, of some of the things we were told repeatedly about this legislation. We were told it was border security first. Now, I don't think anybody denies that amnesty is the one thing that will happen. Everything else is going to be promised to occur in the future. So that was not an honest and correct promise.

Then it was said it was going to be the toughest enforcement ever. Well, I would just say to my colleague, this legislation is not as tough as the 2007 bill. As an example, it weakened the standard of enforcement at the border from current law that they are still debating and can't reach an agreement over. It weakens the current law's standard.

As I just established earlier, it weakened the entry-exit visa system absolutely on a key and fundamental point, making the entry-exit visa system not workable; whereas today, if the administration did it properly, it would work.

The Senator just mentioned back taxes. That is a flimflam if there ever was one. We hear that over and over--people are going to pay their back taxes. The IRS is not going to go out and try to run down 11 million people who have been here illegally and have been working and try to find out how much they owe and then collect taxes from them. It is not physically practical. It will never happen. It is a talking point, just as the Senator said, and not reality.

They are going to learn English. That sounds good. We are for making people learn English. But if a person is going to get legal status, a Social Security number, the ability to go to work almost immediately, and 10 years later, if they haven't learned English, under the language of the bill all they have to do is to enroll in a course. They do not have to complete the course or anything. It only occurs when they are at the point of becoming a legal permanent resident. That is 10 years later.

Then no welfare benefits. The Senator just mentioned the biggest is the earned-income tax credit. I offered an amendment to validate the sponsors' promise in the Judiciary Committee, if the Senator will recall, and it was voted down. So they said we are not going to have any welfare, but the Congressional Budget Office--well, it is obvious. The earned-income tax credit is not a tax deduction, it is a direct payment from the U.S. Treasury to people who qualify for this subsidy. So that is one of the biggest ones we have, and it is still protected. They can still obtain it.

Then they say: We will end illegal immigration. That was a firm promise--to end illegal immigration. The toughest bill ever. The Congressional Budget Office report that came out yesterday said it would only reduce illegal immigration by 25 percent. I think it was a difference of we would have 7.5 million people enter the country illegally instead of 10 million people entering the country illegally over the next 10 years. How pathetic is that?

So we are going to give amnesty, benefits, and all of this, and we are going to promise the American people we are going to fix the broken border, but it is not there. The promises aren't there.

We haven't even seen this new amendment. Now we are going to have all these agents, we are going to fix the border, everything is going to be taken care of, and we say: Well, we would like to read your bill. The last time you weren't so accurate, were you? Last time the promises weren't fulfilled in your bill. Now you are scrambling around, your bill is in big trouble, people are asking some real tough questions, you don't have answers for them, and so a group comes together. They are secretly meeting over here today, and now they have the toughest amendment ever, I guess. But when do we read it? When do we see it? We were told we were going to have it at 6 o'clock. It is now 8:30.

So I agree with the Senator from Utah. I don't think talking points are going to cut it. Doesn't the Senator agree the power is in the legislation and not in talking points?


Mr. SESSIONS. Well, it is going to be that way, it does look like. We have been talking about trying to find out what the plan is and what kind of process we can use to go forward, but the ability to get amendments does seem to be slipping away. And there are a lot of excuses and reasons, but all I would say is we are getting ready to vote on a huge important bill that will change immigration law in America, and the American people deserve to have their Representatives fix it and make it better, if they can.

I truly think there will be no excuse if we get into a rush, as the Senator correctly predicts, I am afraid, next week. That will just slide by if we have
to pass the bill essentially as is, after the experts tell us it has all been fixed now.

So I just would ask the Senator about this border situation. Just as a normal citizen, I would think if the U.S. Government wanted to have the ability to work on the border and do things on the border, it would be easier if the government already owned the land than if it were in the hands of someone else. At a very minimum we ought to be able to protect the border of the United States, our national sovereignty, in that fashion. Not to even be able to use land the government already owns is pretty baffling to me.


Mr. SESSIONS. I thank the Chair. That is correct.


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


Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, we have another hour waiting now to get this magic amendment we have been waiting for that is going to cause us all to be able to sleep well tonight, and everything is going to be taken care of if the Hoeven-Corker amendment is blessed. Apparently, they are running people into a secret room trying to get them to sign up to vote for it and vote for final passage and promising them some corn, I guess, a Louisiana Purchase or something to try to line them up and get the system done.

But I would indicate that this side had agreed to about as many as 16 amendments earlier. As this exciting new ``superamendment'' came along, it does seem what has happened is the train jumped the track. The amendments we thought we would be voting on even later in the afternoon got jumped off the track. Now we are all waiting on the favored amendment, the amendment that everyone seems to think has to get preference over everybody else; whereas, we could be voting right this minute on many of the amendments. If we started voting on the ones that had been agreed to and cleared on this side, I think we would even be finished long before now.

I would look to Senator Lee.


Mr. SESSIONS. I think the Senator is making a valuable point. I don't believe there is any justification for the process stopping today.

I would say it is convenient to say to the press and the American people: A big development has occurred. Everything is on hold. We are going to move this amendment. It is going to fix everything that you are concerned about.

That is part of the drive, the vision, the message being put out here.

I suspect a number of Senators--maybe in the majority party particularly--felt like they didn't want to vote on these 16 amendments. Some of them would actually make the bill work better. Some of them have some tough law enforcement provisions in them, tough in the sense they are fair and will work and actually tighten this system that is so out of control, and they didn't want to vote on those amendments. So I am sure maybe they complained to the distinguished majority leader and others.

But all I know is that we were moving along. People were saying from the other side let's get some votes. I said I am ready to vote. Let's vote. So agreements were being reached, and all of a sudden it stopped--on one favored amendment. That is what we are all focused on today.

I agree with Senator Lee that somehow all of us are supposed to be equal in this spot, that one Senator is not supposed to be better than the others, and we all ought to be able to come to the floor and offer a legitimate amendment, debate it, and get a vote.


Mr. SESSIONS. It does raise a question. It has really not been properly discussed. I believe my colleague makes a reference to the citizenship path? Is that what the Senator said?

I have given a lot of thought to it over the years. In 2007 it was discussed. I reached a serious conclusion. Other people might disagree. This is what I concluded. I concluded that after 1986, when every benefit the Nation could give was given to people who came here illegally and it did not work and we had even more people come and enforcement never occurred, then really a great nation such as the United States, which is in a position to allow somebody legal status in their country, is not required to give every single benefit to somebody who comes illegally as somebody who comes legally.

In fact, I believe it is very important, as a matter of principle, that the United States say, based on our experience in 1986: You come to the United States lawfully, we will allow you to have a path to citizenship; your children born here, they will be citizens. But if you do not come lawfully, we might agree out of compassion, out of concern to allow you to live here the rest of your life and work and give you a Social Security card and allow you to benefit in America, but you don't get everything. You don't get every honor this Nation can give if you did not follow the law when you came here.

I think that is legitimate as a matter of principle, as a matter of fairness, as a matter of the Constitution and law. That is where I am on that subject.


Mr. SESSIONS. I really do. I think the American people would feel better about it. I remember after the immigration bill last time, and the ObamaCare, Senator Lamar Alexander, one of our more respected Members, said: We don't do comprehensive very well in the Senate. I think that is right because these matters are so complex. For example, I have offered a very detailed amendment dealing with simply how the ICE agents will have to identify and deport people they apprehend who came in violation of the law. That is very difficult. We talked earlier about the entry-exit visa system. We have been working on it for years. The law requires it now. We simply need to go the last distance and get it done. But this bill backs away from it. It would take some time. It really should be a separate piece of legislation to deal with the entire visa system.

Then you have how many people come and what skills they should bring and should they not be more merit-based. The bill claims to make progress in that regard, but it is very--it is really not because the nonskilled percentage goes up even though we do have more skilled workers. But the percentage still is out of whack because most people will be coming without reference to their skills. That really needs a lot of time, thought, and effort.

Then the border itself is a complex issue.

Then, how should we best create a seasonal worker, guest worker program for our agricultural industry, which does need seasonal workers? And we can create something that will work for them, but, boy, that takes a lot of care too.

This bill says people come--many of them in these guest worker programs--for 3 years with their family, and they get to stay another 3 years and maybe another 3 years. Presumably, if they do not have a job, they are supposed to go home. Do you think we are going to try to round up people and deport people who have been here for 6, 9 years, deport them and send them home if they are out of work for a while? It just doesn't sound like a practical solution. So a real temporary guest worker program, it seems to me, should be drafted with great care, and to the extent possible a person would come without family to do a specific job and then return.

There are lots of other examples in the bill that should have fundamentally separate pieces of legislation, thoughtfully considered, with law enforcement officers participating, economists being considered, and studies being conducted to see the best way to serve the American interests. That should be our goal--serving the legitimate national interests of America, including security. That could be the subject of another bit of it, how to enhance our national security from terrorists and other dangerous people who would enter the country.


Mr. SESSIONS. I had the pleasure to talk a little with Congressman Goodlatte, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and have followed some of the work they are doing over there.

I think they are doing exactly what the Senator has referred to.

The first piece of legislation they are working on--and they have a large number of experienced House Members who signed on to it: former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Lamar Smith of Texas, Jim Sensenbrenner, and others such as Trey Gowdy, who was a Federal prosecutor for many years, so he understands the law. They have written a bill that deals with the internal interior enforcement.

They heard from ICE officers, they heard from Border Patrol officers, and they studied the reality of the situation. They carefully worked through it, and they produced a piece of legislation that I believe would be a tremendous asset to the effective enforcement of law in America on the internal side--one of the aspects of reform that ought to be done right if we do reform at all. If we do a comprehensive reform, every part has to be done right.

They can't have a bucket, fix two holes, and leave three more or the water will run out. I think that is where we go off base. If you bite off more than you can chew, it becomes a political thing.

So I am selling a vision. My vision is that my bill is going to end illegality, make everybody happy, make money for America, reduce our deficit, and everybody should thank me. But the bill, as the Senator and I have studied it, doesn't do that. There are too many flaws in it because it is too big.

The Members who worked on this bill are busy Senators. They are involved in tax reform, they are involved in Libya and Syria, they have defense issues, and all kinds of issues. They don't have time to rewrite the entire immigration law of America in a detailed, effective way all at one time. So that is what we have. We have a document that seeks to justify talking points, visions, images, and feel-good approaches.

The Senator from Utah is a good lawyer and the Senator knows that what is in the bill is what counts. Will the words actually and effectively accomplish what has been promised for it?

I was a Federal prosecutor for almost 15 years. My judgment tells me it will not work. It is not what has been promised, and we ought not to have the American people saddled with a bill that promises good, but in reality is not good. So that is my fundamental concern about this.


Mr. SESSIONS. Well, it is now 10 minutes after 9. We were told that this special amendment that is going to fix everything in the bill would be produced at 6 p.m. Apparently, Senators have been going out of the secret room somewhere and being hot-boxed or had their arms twisted or given promises to get them to sign on to this new train that will move rapidly forward. At least that is what it looks like to me.

What we are hearing is--and I don't doubt it--as soon as that amendment is brought forth and filed tonight, some may ask: Why do you want to file it tonight? Well, they want to file it tonight so they can file cloture immediately. They want to file cloture so they can shut off debate immediately so they would be able to move the bill forward early next week. So that is the process, and it is favoring one amendment above everything else.

I am willing to look at it, and I look forward to receiving it, but it is almost past my bedtime. I normally would like to think I was heading to slumberland at this time, if not in the bed, and try to start earlier around here in the mornings.

So here we are, waiting for the bill to be filed. Senators have gone home for the most part. They have already gone home for the weekend. There is no real business or votes going to occur, but they could have if we had started earlier today like the plans were, as I understood it.

I am uneasy, as is my colleague, that this place is not going to be relaxed next week. I think the speed is going to pick up, and we are going to be told: We have to move, move, move, so there is not enough time for your amendment. Sorry.

That is the pattern too often here, and we end up with just a piddly few amendments that are not worthy of the great subject of this debate, and I am just sad about it. I thought for a while there we were going to really get into some amendments this week, and I thought it would be the right thing. We will see what happens.


Mr. SESSIONS. Constituents have a right to hold us accountable. It has become the mood of the leadership--really of both parties--to protect Members from tough votes. Members say: Of those 16 amendments, there are 2 that I don't want to vote on because I will make somebody mad back home. But we are paid to vote. We are paid to be representatives. We are paid to be accountable.

The American people ought to be able to hold us accountable, and if we don't vote, they have a difficult time knowing what we are actually doing up here. They have a difficult time of holding us accountable--as they have a right to do in a democratic republic where elections count--and they need to be able to judge us before they reelect us or vote us out of office. I think this is a big part of this trend to avoid voting to protect Members.

Now Senator McConnell--a very experienced Senator who loves the Senate--used to always say that the burden of the majority was they have to move legislation. They have to actually move bills, and that means they have to subject the bill to amendments on the floor and Members have to vote. They have to be held accountable. There is no avoiding it. That is what they have to do.

The majority has the responsibility--if they are going to be a leader and actually change the country and advance their agenda--they have to bring legislation to the floor, and traditionally then the Senator would be subject to debate, criticism, and amendment. We have curtailed that in a way that I don't think is healthy for the Republic, as well as making the legislation better, which can occur with votes and amendments.

So I think the Senator has raised some valid points there.


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


Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, before we wrap up, we were told that this special amendment--the one with the highest priority that the leadership all seems to think is so valuable--would be filed at 6 o'clock. Now it is 9:40 p.m. and we still have not seen it. Perhaps they are adding special clauses in to get special Senators' votes before they file it. But I suspect it will be done tonight because the plan, obviously, is to file cloture on it immediately and try to move it to a vote as soon as possible.

I want to conclude my remarks tonight on one subject. The American people are good and decent people. They believe in immigration. They have always supported immigration in this country. But they have been demanding, pleading, praying for this government to develop a good and decent system of immigration that serves our national interests and makes them proud. And for 30, 40 years we have had a situation in which people have been coming in massive numbers illegally, and it is not right. The American people are not happy about it. They are angry with their politicians.

I remember saying in 2007 that the people were not mad at immigrants. They were mad at those of us in Congress and in the White House and in the departments and agencies of government for not doing our jobs.

That is what they are angry about. I saw a poll not long ago that said 88 percent of the people said they were angry at Congress and only 12 percent said they were angry at people who entered the country illegally. I think that is where the American people are. So we promised and promised and promised that we would pass legislation that would end the illegality and that we would make the American people proud of the system we have. It has not happened.

So this amendment claims it has 700 miles of fencing in it, according to the newspapers, although we have not seen the amendment that is about to be here. It was not in the original bill. But now, after it ran into tough sledding--people started reading it, and it began to sink in popularity with the people and with Members of the Senate--they came up with, they say, a bill that adds fencing in it. Not long ago they were saying it was stupid to have a fence. Now we have an amendment that says 700 miles of fencing. Well, let share a thought or two about that.

In 2007, 2008, we passed bills to build fences--700 miles. I was one of the main sponsors. I think I was the sponsor of 700 miles of double-wide fencing. Eventually, it came out of the House, I believe. We did not have money in our appropriations bill to pay for it. We had voted for having a fence, but they did not put up the money. We complained about that and complained about that, so they got embarrassed, and I remember saying: Boy, isn't this clever? You go home and say you voted to authorize a fence, and when it came time to put money up, you did not vote for it. So we put up the money, actually agreed to fund it.

Oh, then they decided: Well, we did not really want to build a fence. We would have a virtual fence. I believe Senator McCain said the other night that we spent $800-and-something million on a virtual fence that never worked. Every bit of it had to be abandoned--some high-tech scheme--and the fence never got built. This was in 2008.

Now, the first bill comes forward, they claim they had fencing in it. But when you read the bill, do you know what it said? Secretary Napolitano was supposed to send forward a plan for fencing--a plan for fencing. But the truth is that Secretary Napolitano is on record publicly--more than once--saying she did not think we needed any fencing. So what kind of plan was she going to submit under this bill?

So we mocked that, made fun of it. But that was their goal. The goal was to pass an immigration bill that pretended to say we are going to build barriers and fencing at the border and not have it in there. That is what the plan was when they offered the bill. But after it hit tough sledding, now we have 700 miles. But it is single fencing, not double, and that is not nearly as good because a person can penetrate a single fence and get by pretty quickly, but if they have to do double-fencing, they have a real problem, and you can run a government vehicle on a roadway between them, and it is very effective.

That was done fundamentally in San Diego a number of years ago. San Diego's area at the border was lawless--drugs, crime, degradation of real estate values, and it was just awful.

They built a good, solid double fence. All of a sudden property values went up, crime dropped, and the area is doing so much better today. So the fences in these kinds of areas are not damaging. Fences can make things better. As they say sometimes, good fences make good neighbors.

I am not impressed with that so much. I do think it is important for us to ask ourselves will it actually get built this time if we pass it. I have my doubts because they do not have the trigger on it, as I understand from the reports; the trigger being you do not get the amnesty until you get the fence built. Then you might get some fencing.

Senator Thune offered a good amendment. Senator Thune's amendment said, before we give the first bit of amnesty, we should build at least 350 miles of the double fencing. Then the other 300 has to be built after that. That was voted down. But after the bill got in trouble, now they have 700 miles in there of at least a single fence.

So that is the why this process has worked. I believe the American people are absolutely right to be unhappy with their government because we have not served them well. They have asked us and pleaded with us to produce a legal system of immigration to end the illegality, and we have failed time and time again to do that which they have asked us to do. That is the truth. I have been here. I have seen the amendments.

What happens time and again is amendments that do not make much
difference but sound good, do not work. They pass. But you put up an amendment that would actually have a substantial impact, such as actually building substantial fencing, and it goes down. It gets voted down. It is almost unbelievable. But I have seen it. My first experience of that was when I learned that people who come for visa overstays--it is not same kind of crime that crossing a border is. It is a civil penalty of some kind.
Some people have contended--I do not think correctly because I did a law review article on it--they have concluded, I don't think correctly, that the local police who apprehend somebody for drunk driving or speeding, they find they are here illegally as a result of a visa overstay, and they cannot hold them. They have to let them go, and they cannot turn them over to Federal law enforcement officers.

So I offered an amendment to make it a misdemeanor to overstay your visa. It does not have to be long. But we need to clarify any confusion that arises from that subject. I thought everybody was going to pass it, until, lo, they figured it out. Someone who was watching the legislation said: Wait a minute. If you pass that, it will help them apprehend and deport people. You cannot pass that. All of a sudden the opposition arose and it went down. That would have worked. It would not have cost us any money. It would have given greater power to do the right thing to the law enforcement community. Boom, it went down.

So under President Bush, he reluctantly came along and got more favorable to a lawful system of immigration. After his bill failed, he agreed to establish a 287(g) program. Governor King may be familiar with that. It was a situation in which local law enforcement officers, people who work in prisons, people at the State trooper headquarters and other officers could go to a Federal training for up to 2 weeks, or maybe more than that, and they would then be trained to properly help the Federal officers do their duty with regard to people who entered the country illegally.

President Bush signed off on it. The program was growing. It was very popular. Alabama was one of the States that sent people to be trained because we did not want to violate anyone's rights. President Obama has basically killed it. They basically ended the program. I will just say to my colleagues, if we do--and at some point I think we will provide legal status for millions of people who are in our country illegally in a compassionate way and try to do what we can--be generous to them, even though they violated the law. If we do that, are we not going to have the ability to enforce the law for somebody in the future who comes illegally?

Is that where we are heading? Because if we do not fix interior enforcement, we are not ever going to be able to do that. We have a larger and larger number each year coming legally by visa and overstaying. Some 40 percent now of the immigrants illegally in our country are here by virtue of overstaying their visa after coming legally. So what do you do about that?

We have to have a system in which we welcome the assistance of State and local law officers. They are not entitled to prosecute people. They are not entitled to deport people. That can only be done by Federal judges and Federal officers. But they have always been able to take somebody who came in across the border illegally, detain them, and then turn them over to the Federal officers for deportation. They do not want that to happen.

This has been blocked systematically. Groups such as La Raza have made this a high priority. Members of the Senate have responded every time they have asked for help and blocked all legislation that would in any way advance the ability of good State law officers to assist the Federal Government in enforcing the law. A State law officer can arrest a bank robber and turn him over so they can be prosecuted in Federal court for bank robbery. They can arrest them on any misdemeanor and turn them over to the Federal Government. They can arrest them on illegal immigration charges and turn them over to the Federal Government. There is no doubt about that.

But the government will not take them, will not come and get them. Ask your local officers what happens if they arrest somebody they know is in the country illegally. They will tell you nothing happens. ICE officers are undermanned. They have policies and rules that do not even allow them to come out and participate. Nobody is participating in the joint Federal-State 287(g) training program anymore. This is over.

In fact, what we have is the Attorney General of the United States suing States that want to be helpful to the Federal Government and try to enforce Federal law. So this is the area to which we have sunk. This is how far we have gotten away from having integrity in the legal process of immigration. The American people are not happy. I hope they are watching this debate because I have spent a lot of time looking at this, this legislation, 1,000 pages.

Who knows what this amendment will be tonight, how many more pages will be added. It will not accomplish what the American people have pleaded with Congress to do. It is focused overwhelmingly, totally has been focused on getting the amnesty first, even though they told us it would be enforcement first. They have to admit it is amnesty first. That is what it is and then a promise of enforcement in the future.

So that is where we are. I wish we could do better. I know we can do better. We can make the border lawful. We can make the entry-exit visa system lawful. We can make the workplace E-Verify system serve the national interests and make it much harder for illegal workers to get jobs.

Remember, under the bill, we will legalize the people who are here illegally. We are talking about people coming here in the future. Are we going to allow them to get jobs? Are we not going to allow ICE to do their job in the future? Are we not going to empower them? Oddly, all of the resources are going to the border but none to deal effectively with the visa overstays.

The Congressional Budget Office that analyzed the bill and gave us a report 2 days ago, the CBO report says this legislation that we have heard is so marvelous will only reduce the number of people entering the country illegally by 25 percent. Can you believe that? Just 25 percent. That is unthinkable, especially after we have been hearing the great promises of how effective it is.

I wonder about that. One of the concerns CBO expresses, the experts whom they have who do the best they can, one of the concerns they express is one I have been talking about since this legislation has hit the floor: We are going to see a great increase in visa overstays if, for no other reason, there are going to be twice as many people coming to America on visas to work under this bill for temporary periods of time than there are today.

Many of them are not going home when they are supposed to go home. That is what the numbers show. Many of them in these programs will come with their families, be able to stay several years, and then they are asked to go home. Fewer of them are going home. They may have children in junior high school. They are not going to go home when the law says, unfortunately. That is the experience we have been seeing. They could go home. They should have every moral obligation to go home, every legal obligation to go home.

A very fine lawyer here wrote a piece I was pleased to read recently. It was the editor of the Yale Law Review, a marine. He said: We tell our soldiers to go and they go. We tell them, go to Iraq in harm's way, 1 year, 15 months, 18 months, and they go. What do you mean, someone comes to America for 1 year should not be made to follow the commitment and the contract we signed? We make our soldiers do it. We are in some sort of deal here. We cannot expect anybody to follow the law. But my experience, and the experience I have seen over the years with immigration is a large number of people are not complying with the law. We can expect that to happen.

So we are going to see a large increase in visa overstays. It is going to be more than the border--over illegal entries at the border. That is going to be a larger and larger part of the problem. CBO basically found that in their recent report. I think that is truly accurate.

This legislation comes nowhere close to fixing it. The key to it is an entry-
exit visa. Current law requires that there be an entry-exit biometric visa that covers air, sea, and land ports. This bill eliminates the biometric fingerprint requirement--eliminates that and says it only has to be effective at air and seaports and not land ports.
This bill is dramatically weaker than current law. We passed six pieces of legislation calling for entry-exit visa systems over the last decade. Never been done. So why should we have enforcement first? That is the reason. We pass a law to build a fence, it does not get built. We pass a law repeatedly that says, let's have an entry-exit visa system. It does not get built. It does not occur.

So we need to put the heat on the people who run this government, including us, to make sure that if we pass something it is going to actually occur. That is why there has been a broad consensus. There needs to be a requirement that enforcement occur before legality occurs. That is why the sponsors were originally saying their bill was enforcement first. There is every reason for the American people to doubt that this Nation will follow through on those commitments.

I am concerned about where we are. I am pleased with the way the House is proceeding. They are moving step by step taking individual parts of our immigration problem and fixing them.

The first one they are dealing with is interior enforcement. I have taken a good bit from their bill, and I have an amendment pending. It will be hugely beneficial to the ability of our ICE officers to enforce law in the United States and help bring this whole system under control. It is a very large part of what we do. I am not sure we will ever get a vote on it. I think I was in the 16 amendments that were going to be approved for a vote.

What is happening? Everything was put on hold today waiting for the favorite amendment. It was supposed to be here at 6 o'clock. Now it is 10 p.m. We still haven't seen it. When are we going to get it? Well, how long will it be? What all will they have in it? We don't know, but it is not going to be a pristine document, I can tell you that.

My staff and I intend to look at it. We are going to evaluate it, and we are going to see if it solves all the immigration problems. We are going to find out if it is great, and we can go home and go to bed at night and know this problem has been fixed. That is what we are being told, but I don't think it is going to show that. Why? Because this bill doesn't, and they said it did. They said it fixed all the problems, but it does not.

They said they didn't believe in a fence. They said the Senator said it was stupid to have a fence. Now all of a sudden we have 700 miles of fence.

They said Senator Cornyn was overreaching. He wanted 5,000 new border agents. Now the bill gets in trouble and they come in with 20,000 border agents and say it is paid for. There is plenty of money to pay for all of this, $30 billion, this article says it is going to go for that. If it was actually needed and it would work out, I would help deal with that.

I have my doubts that this is the best way to spend our money. I think this is a political response to a failing piece of legislation, a dramatic, desperate attempt to pass a dramatic piece of amendment so they can say it does everything you want and more.

We will see. Hopefully it does improve the border. Again, the border is just one part of the overall failure of our immigration system.

The right thing for America to do is to continue to welcome immigrants, to have a legal system that is based on the national interests of America, very much like Canada, where they give points. If you are younger, you get points. If you have more education, you get points. If you speak the language, you get points. If you have special skills, you get points. You get points for that.

I think a majority, maybe 60 percent of Canadian immigration, is based on a merit-based competitive system. People apply, and the ones who are most qualified, the ones who are going to be likely to be the most successful in Canada, are the ones who get admitted--not the ones that aren't able to speak the language, who don't have skills that Canada needs, and who are going to struggle in Canada.

Why shouldn't you choose the ones who have the best opportunity to be successful? This is so basic. We were told this is a move to merit-based immigration.

We have done an analysis of that. I did a speech on it. They said they were moving away from brothers and family connections, and they were going to have a merit-based system. We have looked at it. About 10 to 15 percent of the total flow is based on this merit-based system.

Then we looked at the details of it in this long 1,000 pages. Clever people had written it. If you are two children, two young people in Honduras or Argentina who wish to come to America, one of them has a brother in America, one of them has dropped out of high school, does not speak English, has not held a job before, and has no real skills, the other one was valedictorian of his high school class, he has 2 years of college, speaks English well, studied hard, and is preparing himself to come to America. Let's say he has 4 years, a college degree. Under this merit-based point system, the brother gets 10 points and the young man with the college degree gets 5. It is chain migration by another name. It takes a master's degree to get as many points as having a brother in the United States. We were told we were going to move away from that and more to an honest and competitive system. Even that small part of the bill that focuses on a merit-based, point-based system has huge advantages for people with family connections, and very large advantages for people who come from countries that do not have many people come to America. They get points and things of that nature that don't make much sense, frankly.

I am hopeful the legislation that we are going to have filed tonight, at least we have been promised it will be filed tonight, will enhance enforcement at our border. I am going to read it carefully to make sure it does. Then I am going to be looking very carefully to see if it improves all the other flaws in this system. If it doesn't, I am not impressed. If it doesn't make this system one that is likely to work, I am not impressed. That is not enough, to fix one part of the system.

Finally, let me close by saying what the Congressional Budget Office, our own best advisers on economic matters, told us 2 days ago in their report. This is what they said. They said this legislation that is before us today will reduce the amount of illegal immigration by only 25 percent, not what we were promised, only 25 percent.

They said this legislation that is before us today will reduce the average wage of Americans in this country, reduce wages at a time when wages have been declining regularly. They have said if passed, this bill before us today, and unlikely to be changed by the Corker-Hoeven amendment, would increase unemployment. It would make more people out of work, make more people go on unemployment compensation, go on food stamps, go on SSI, and maybe go on disability if they can get it, because they can't find a job. We will have this very large flow of workers into our country, beyond I think what the country can absorb at a time of high unemployment. Wages will go down. Unemployment will go up. Illegality in this system is only marginally reduced.

I don't think that is a bargain. I don't see how we can go to our constituents and say that is what we are going to pass. I really don't think so.

Let's don't do this, colleagues. Let's stop and push back here. Let's let the House proceed, as they seem to be doing. Let's send our bill back to committee and consider some of these issues such as will it help people get jobs or will it hurt people's ability to get jobs. Will it help their wages go up or will their wages go down. If it is pulling wages down, why are we doing it? This is where I think we are. I believe it ought to be reviewed, reviewed carefully. The American people need to know what is happening here. They are going to have to watch what happens because there is a politically correct movement in this body to move this bill out for all kinds of reasons unrelated to the substance of the legislation.

We are here to pass legislative substance, not some political vision, not some scheme to get votes. That is what we need to be doing. We are not doing that effectively, in my opinion.

This legislation is defective. It should not be passed, and I am confident tonight, if we get an amendment that deals with the border, it still will leave huge parts of this legislation defective and unworthy of support.


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