After pushing the Farm Bill through early this evening, the Senate is expected to consider a motion to proceed to the Group of Eight’s massive immigration reform bill.
Though the legislation is still largely flying under the radar because of a succession of scandals, advocates and opponents are trying to get in their 11th-hour arguments as the bill moves along.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) wrote in the Deseret News yesterday that he initially joined a bipartisan reform group but left because the compromise was looking too much like ObamaCare.
“Many critics compare the ‘gang bill to the failed 1986 immigration law, which also promised border security in exchange for amnesty but did not deliver on its promises. But the ‘gang’ bill actually reminds me of a more recent piece of legislation: Obamacare,” wrote Lee.
“Like the president’s health care law, the ‘gang’ bill was negotiated in secret by insiders and special interests, who then essentially offered it to Congress as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. It grants broad new powers to the same executive branch that today is mired in scandal for incompetence and abuse of power. Total cost estimates are in the trillions. And rather than fix our current immigration problems, the bill makes many of them worse,” he added.
“However well-intentioned, the ‘Gang of Eight’ bill is just an immigration version of Obamacare.”
Writing in USA Today, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops president Archbishop Timothy Dolan said “it’s important that Congress craft legislation that balances the legitimate needs of security with our heritage of welcoming immigrants and the gifts they bring to our country.”
“The Senate proposal, while not perfect, goes a long way toward correcting injustices in the system. Despite its shortcomings, the bill significantly improves upon the status quo and will assist millions of families. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress to improve the legislation, and we applaud lawmakers of both parties who are working together to bring 11 million people out of the shadows,” the New York archbishop wrote.
“In the end, immigration reform is about answers to some basic questions. How do we treat our brothers and sisters? Do we want to continue a system that keeps millions of people in a permanent underclass? Do we want to continue to separate a generation of children from their parents? Do we want to continue the American heritage of hospitality or not? We must do better.”
In the Los Angeles Times today, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said the bill “would dangerously undermine future enforcement while imposing substantial burdens on taxpayers and taking jobs and pay from U.S. workers.”
“The sponsors promised that 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. Furthermore, the secretary of Homeland Security can waive these already loose standards in many cases,” Sessions noted.
“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 gang members; those with major misdemeanor criminal convictions (including felonies pleaded to misdemeanors) for serious crimes, including drug offenses, sexual abuse and prostitution; those with arrest records of any length; fugitives from deportation orders; or those who have been deported and illegally reentered.”