Senator Sessions Rebukes the Gang of Eight
Immigration Reform: A String of Broken Promises
Members of the Senate and House are engaged in a frenzy of activity to salvage the floundering effort to pass immigration reform.
In the Senate, the effort is focused on finessing the impossible conflict between legalization and border security. In the House, the focus is on passing immigration reform in a piecemeal manner instead of one comprehensive bill.
While the outcome is far from certain, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama continues the sometimes-lonely effort to point out the inherent flaws in the Gang of Eight bill now under consideration in the Senate.
In an op-ed published Monday in the Los Angeles Times, Sessions said the bill fails to live up to every major promise made by its sponsors. Instead of improving the immigration system, he wrote, the bill would undermine future enforcement, impose burdens on taxpayers, and take jobs away from U.S. workers.
“On every major front, this legislation fails to deliver on its core promises,” Sessions said. “It delivers only for the special-interest groups who helped write it. Should it pass, it would represent the ultimate triumph of the Washington elite over the everyday citizen, to whom Congress properly owes its loyalty.”
Sessions is both consistent and persistent in his criticism of the Senate bill. In the first day of Senate debate on the measure last week, Sessions was scathing in his critique of what he called the secretive deal made behind closed doors with special interests such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO.
Sessions decried the exclusion of law enforcement that was shut out of the discussions by the Gang of Eight. He pointed out that amendments offered in the Senate Judiciary Committee to tighten border security and other provisions of the bill were rejected by the Democratic majority for fear of jeopardizing the fragile deal that produced the bill
Here are some of the broken promises Sessions noted in the op-ed piece Monday:
- The sponsors’ promise of enforcement first was broken when lead sponsor Chuck Schumer of New York declared: “First, people will be legalized – then we’ll make sure the border is secure.” About 11 million immigrants who are here illegally – which includes 4 million who have overstayed their visas – would receive work permits, Social Security numbers and access to state and local benefits within six months of passage.
- The sponsors promised that back taxes would have to be paid, but under the bill, if the IRS doesn’t audit someone working off the books – which it isn’t required to do – there will be no taxes to pay. There is no requirement that immigrants pay state or local back taxes or that employers pay back taxes.
- The sponsors promised the people here illegally would have to learn English and civics, but the fine print reveals it will be at least 10 years before this is put into effect. And even then, the bill only requires those applying for permanent residency (a green card) to be pursuing a course of study “to achieve an understanding of English and knowledge and understanding” of civics.
- The sponsors promised that those “with a serious criminal background or who pose a threat to our national security” would be ineligible for legal status. But the bill allows the Homeland Security secretary, under certain conditions, to grant it to a host of past offenders.
- The sponsors promised that people here illegally would not be eligible for public benefits. But, after the immediate grant of legal status, the legislation confers permanent residency within 10 years after passage (in some cases sooner), guaranteeing eligibility for federal benefits at a staggering long-term cost.
- Sponsors promised the bill would prevent future visa overstays. Congress passed six laws after the Government Accountability office recommended a biometrics exit system in 2007. Instead of finally requiring enforcement of these laws, the bill merely calls for a pilot system at a small sampling of airports and excludes land ports of entry.
- The sponsors promised that the bill would not significantly increase legal immigration. However, it will grant legal status to at least 30 million immigrants over the next 10 years if you add up the proposed surge in legal arrivals, approval of 4.5 million previous green card applicants, plus work authorization and legal residency for an estimated 11 million here unlawfully today.
As the debates unfold in the House and Senate, these promises will be repeated over and over. Sessions has refuted each one of them. His list should serve as a guide to members of the House and Senate who continue to deceive the voters and every law-abiding citizen.
During the course of his career, Walker has worked in Chicago, Washington DC, New York City, and Phoenix. He served as a reporter in Chicago, a press secretary and speechwriter in Washington, and in numerous positions in New York in corporate and financial services communications.
Walker is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.