Senator Jeff Sessions R-Ala. released the following statement on the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform proposal:
The bill produced by the Gang of Eight is nearly 1,000 pages long and will impact every aspect of our society and every single American worker and taxpayer. It will take months—not days or weeks as the Majority proposes—to review this legislation.
Already, we know that the bill’s sponsors have abandoned their core promise to the American people that enforcement would come first. This bill is legalization first, not enforcement first. The day the bill passes there will be effective amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, with only the same promises we have heard before of enforcement to occur at some later date. That amnesty will then become official in a matter of months—once DHS merely submits a plan for border security in the future. That’s not a trigger—that’s the honor system. DHS develops the metrics and DHS decides when those metrics are met. Why should we trust DHS to follow through—after amnesty is granted—when this administration has aggressively defied those laws already in place?
In recent years interior enforcement has been significantly undermined. And yet our interior enforcement needs are almost totally neglected in the Gang’s proposal. Alarmingly, the bill leaves intact the single greatest obstacle to immigration reform: the Administration’s abuse of prosecutorial discretion to prevent the enforcement of federal law. It will also provide safe harbor to those who have committed a variety of offenses—ranging from identity theft, to multiple immigration violations, and even those with criminal records.
This bill opens up citizenship to recent arrivals and, remarkably, millions who overstayed their visas. If adopted, this bill would send the following message to the world: if you get a U.S. visa and it expires, never leave—just stay put and evade detection. It even opens up citizenship to those who have been deported from the country.
Economic concerns abound as well. Once illegal immigrants are granted green cards, they will become eligible for generous welfare and entitlement programs. Because of how these benefits are structured, low-wage illegal immigrants who are legalized will ultimately receive trillions more in benefits than they contribute to these programs. Obamacare alone, over the long term, will see its unfunded liability grow by $2 trillion. The unfunded obligation for Medicare and Social Security, together, would likely increase by $2.5 trillion.
Most importantly, this proposal would economically devastate low-income American citizens and current legal immigrants. It will pull down their wages and reduce their job prospects. Including those legalized, this bill would result in at least 30 million new foreign workers over a 10-year period—more than the entire population of the state of Texas. This at a time when 90 million Americans are outside the labor force and a record number of our citizens are on welfare.
As with 2007, this entire process has been marred from the beginning by allowing special interests to place their priorities above the national interest. Instead of spending months courting the support of big business and labor bosses in Washington, the Gang’s first meeting should have been with the immigration enforcement officers who know the flaws in our system better than anyone. And before proposing a dramatic increase in the number of low-skill foreign workers, they should have met with experts about how this would hurt struggling Americans.
Has Congress forgotten who it represents? Congress’ duty is to the American people. I believe it is going to be clearly established that this plan will be detrimental to working Americans—and will not pass. What Congress needs to understand is that our obligation is to law-abiding Americans who have seen their wages erode over the last decade. We can’t further weaken their financial position in order to provide more benefits to those here unlawfully.
I understand the hard work that went into this bill. But as we explore its many flaws and loopholes in the coming days, I am confident the American public will firmly reject it—and will demand reform that puts the national interest first.