(Washington, DC) U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on the floor of the U.S. Senate criticized the “gang of six” amnesty proposal that six U.S. Senators are threatening to shut down the government over if the U.S. Senate does not vote on their proposal.
The “gang of six” consists of U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Michael Bennett (D-CO), and Robert Menendez (R-NJ) who are trying to put together a bipartisan deal on immigration reform.
Below is the transcript of Grassley’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
I rise today to offer remarks about an issue of utmost importance to this body and the American people: the continued, ongoing negotiations over the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program.
Just last week, I told this body that we still weren’t any closer to a legitimate and fair deal that promotes and protects the interests of the American people in a lawful immigration system, and provides a fair and equitable solution on DACA. In spite of the many events of these past two weeks, that pronouncement still holds true.
Unfortunately, immigration has become the Groundhog Day of the United States Senate. Democrats, and even some Republicans, keep repeating the same mistakes we’ve been making for the past 30 years. And they don’t seem to be learning from them.
Recently, several of my colleagues formed what can best be described as a poor man’s version of the Gang of 8. These six Senators have decided that they, and they alone, will come up with a solution to the DACA crisis. And now, they’re demanding that their solution, and no other, receive a vote, or they will shut the government down.
Surely if these Senators are willing to prevent basic services from being provided to law-abiding Americans and legal immigrants, their plan must be something that could garner wide bi-partisan support, pass the House, and be signed into law by the President?
So, what’s actually in this “grand plan” that these Senators have come up with? Well, as of today neither I, nor my staff, have actually seen text of the bill they’re promoting.
Why are they threatening a shutdown over a bill that almost no one has been given a chance to read? And why are they threatening to shut down the government when there’s still plenty of time to come to a meaningful solution that can earn bipartisan support?
Well here’s what we do know about their proposal from one page summaries: This bill would provide a massive amnesty to millions of people who’re in the country unlawfully.
Their proposal doesn’t just provide status to the young men and women enrolled in DACA, which everyone in this chamber agrees we should do. It dramatically expands the scope, granting legal status to potentially millions of others, including those who knowingly violated the law. It’s unthinkable to me that we should reward that unlawful conduct, and it’s ridiculous that Democrats and some Republicans are turning the tables and making this last minute demand.
Surely then, in exchange for this massive amnesty, their proposal would provide significant border security, interior enforcement, and chain migration reforms.
If you were hoping for that answer to be yes, don’t hold your breath. Their proposal has a paltry amount of funding for existing border security infrastructure improvements. That’s right, no new infrastructure.
Their proposal also doesn’t add new legal authorities to make it easier for law enforcement to apprehend, detain, and deport dangerous criminal aliens.
I have to ask, is there a reason why these Senators don’t want to make it easier to remove dangerous criminals? Do they want to protect sex offenders? Do they want to protect child molesters? Do they want drunk drivers, gang members, human traffickers, and drug smugglers roaming throughout our country? I can’t imagine the answer to any of these questions is yes. If I’m right, then they need to tell the American people why they refuse to give our government the new authorities needed to remove these individuals who have endangered our communities.
They either support removing dangerous criminals, or they don’t, there’s no in between.
Their plan also fails to truly end chain migration. In fact, in the one-page document I’ve seen, these Senators acknowledge their chain migration “fix” would only affect 26,266 visas per year. So in exchange for a potential amnesty for eight million people, they’ve agreed to eliminate just over 26,000 visas a year.
I’m no mathematician, but that doesn’t seem balanced to me.
Finally, their proposal doesn’t even end the diversity visa program. This program is subject to fraud and abuse, and colleagues on both sides of the aisle have long called for its elimination. Its elimination, not its reallocation. This proposal doesn’t do that.
To sum it up, this proposal is heavy on amnesty, and non-existent on security measures. That approach has been tried time and time again, and that approach has failed. The American people simply don’t want to provide a massive amnesty first, and secure the border later.
For those members who think we can do amnesty first, security second, I say you’re wrong. And I know because I’ve been here a long time and I was there every single time it’s failed. And I’ve seen it fail. And I remember why it failed.
Maybe, just maybe, if we actually provide security first, and then consider more comprehensive reforms later, we can break this repetitive cycle and end this constant immigration groundhog day.
Doing so would instill trust with the American people that we are dedicated to fixing the problem, not simply delaying the same debate.
I yield the floor.
On Wednesday, Grassley with U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) issued a joint statement saying the Durbin-Graham-Flake immigration proposal fails to adequately address border security, enforcement, chain migration and diversity visas while expanding legal status to immigrants who knowingly violated immigration law.
“The Durbin-Graham-Flake proposal would do nothing to solve the underlying problem in our current immigration system. It does not take the needed steps to fix our porous border and it fails to empower law enforcement to apprehend and remove dangerous criminals who are here illegally. Furthermore, since it does not end chain migration, this proposal guarantees we will be right back here dealing with this same situation in the near future. As we’ve said all along, those brought here illegally through no fault of their own shouldn’t be punished, but this proposal also effectively legalizes those who knowingly broke our immigration laws,” the Senators said.
“America is the most welcoming country in the world. But the American people have understandably lost trust in Washington after multiple attempts to fix our broken immigration system have failed to address its underlying problems.
“It’s inconceivable that anyone would shut down the government over this plan. It’s time to come back to the negotiating table and focus on getting a serious solution to the DACA situation that protects all Americans and our national security,” they added.