The bill before us rides here on a high ideal, but is nowhere close to what it promises. It is fatally flawed. If passed, it will not work.
This flawed bill did not come about because of inadvertence, chance, error, ignorance, or mistake. It came about as a direct result of the fact that the forces that shaped it all had goals that were important to them, but these goals are not coterminous with the interests of the nation as a whole. The Realpolitik Gang seemed fine with that. They openly reported for weeks that these interests were working through the legislation and their differences, and soon the Gang would have a bill that, having been blessed by the powerful interests they had invited to the meetings, would be delivered to the Senate for adoption.
They were so proud of this process that they, the magnificent Eight, would stick together, all for one, one for all, and defeat any amendment that dared to alter this “delicate agreement.” They would consider amendments, of course, but nothing serious.
One would not want to disturb the delicate sensibilities of those sensitive folks. You know, folks who have come together for the common good: Mr. Richard Trumka — union boss; Mr. Tom Donahue — leader of the big mules; agribusiness conglomerates; La Raza; the Immigration Lawyers Association; our high-tech billionaires who, having delivered magnificent computers, now desire to benefit us by their political genius; meat packers.
You must know friends that, when the Gang of Eight said there was a delicate balance — a fragile agreement — they weren’t talking primarily about the agreement among themselves — that was secondary. They were referring to the special-interest forces that were in the room writing the bill. Those interests, those forces, had signed in blood. The Gang then signed in blood to fight off any serious ideas that would violate the secret pact.
Although the Gang and the cabal that had confederated and combined together to set the immigration policy of the United States were desperate to keep it secret, there was another dominant force behind the legislation. That was President Obama. His team was there every step of the way, surely providing much of the drafting work. We know this because Ms. Munoz couldn’t keep it a secret. She made sure to reveal to the New York Times that she and president Obama were there every step of the way — much to the discomfort of the Gang — especially the Republicans who had been anxious to declare the bill was written by entrepreneur job creators, e.g., the Chamber of Commerce. This, presumably, would cause Republicans to relax knowing that what’s good for the Chamber of Commerce is good for America.
And, with a very favorable judiciary makeup — four of the Gang being on the Committee — they started executing the plan. Senator Schumer on occasion would give Republican Gang members a pass — they could break ranks and vote with the people on an issue as long as there was enough votes to kill the pesky amendment. And so it was.
Oh, one more important thing. The money. There would be money to run campaign-like ads all over America to promote the bill, to promote senators, to protect senators. And, who knows, maybe to provide political contributions to those who vote right.
The combine had it rolling until last week, when the wheels almost came off. Senators and the American people saw it had more holes than Swiss cheese.
Clearly, the bill lacked the simple conviction that, after amnesty, the lawlessness must end. [Bullett]The metrics — the standards for enforcement at the border were weakened.
E-Verify was pushed back for five years.
Interior enforcement was farther diminished.
The Citizenship Service was set up to fail.
The entry/exit visa system was destroyed.
Border-enforcement promises would never be achieved.
In panic, the Gang sought help to save the day. They would throw money at the border. Though the bill was filled with holes, the most public was the border. The people were fixated on the border. Promise them anything on the border. Agents, fence. We don’t have to ever build it or hire them. We can stretch it out over years. Just make a dramatic promise — that’s enough.
Thus, it happened. The Corker-Hoeven substitute was conceived, and cloture was invoked and Senator Reid filled the tree. In the glow of promised border security, the crumbling line of support firmed, the assault was stopped.
Now, colleagues, this vote is for movement to final passage. It is a procedural vote. If cloture is invoked, the bill will pass later this afternoon. We have had only procedural votes since last Tuesday. Not a single amendment has been voted on. And, if cloture is achieved, there will be none. In 2007, there were 46 votes. This time there have been only nine. Three of those were tabling votes on key Grassley and Cornyn amendments.
The promises of an open and fair process have been as hollow as the promises that this bill is the toughest ever and will end the lawlessness in the future. It’s amnesty first and plainly lacks any mechanism, any commitment, to enforcement. Yes, money has been promised for the border in the distant future, but:
The E-Verify workplace enforcement system is terribly flawed;
The entry/exit visa is much weaker than current law;
Interior enforcement is much weaker (I would encourage everyone to read the passionate letters of our federal and local law-enforcement officers, pleading with us not to pass this bill which they say will hurt enforcement and undermine national security);
The method of processing those given legal status will not work;
Far from having fines pay for the cost of the amnesty, it is a huge budget buster;
The Obamacare provision means that it is thousands of dollars cheaper to hire RPI workers than citizens; earmarks have been added to attract votes.
Friends, there is no need to pass this 1,200-page bill today. It is fatally flawed. It will not work. I urge that this Senate not yield to the pressure. Refuse to cut off debate and amendments. A “no” vote is not a vote to kill the bill or to end the hope for needed immigration reform. A ‘no’ vote says, let’s stop for a while. Let’s continue to work through all these problems and produce a bill that will work. That will respond to the pleas of the American people for a lawful immigration system, that serves our national interests, and of which we can take pride.
How can we vote for a bill that our own CBO says will reduce average wages in America for twelve years, increase unemployment for seven years, and reduce per capita GNP growth over 25 years? A bill that will admit 30 million people to permanent legal status in the next ten years? That will dramatically increase the annual immigration flow, and will double the guest worker flow?
All this at a time of high unemployment, falling wages, and surging welfare, disability, and dependency.
I urge my colleagues to vote “no” on cloture to not let this bill pass today, but require that it be subjected to more amendments and more study in the time to come. We can make legislation that will actually work, but this one cannot work as it is. We should not let it go to final passage today.