This afternoon Senator John Cornyn made the case against cloture on the Senate floor. Few senators have worked harder on the issue of immigration reform than the former Texas attorney general and after making powerful arguments on the manifest weaknesses of the compromise bill, he explains what is so wrong about the process that will be played out beginning tomorrow. In doing so, he highlights the kind of amendments the compromisers dare not allow to be considered:
“I continue to hope that we can pass meaningful, safe immigration reform. Everyone knows that our immigration system is broken, and I would like to see it fixed. This bill does not do it.
Finally, one of the biggest problems we have had with this legislation centers around the way that it has been handled. Written behind closed doors, this bill did not even see the light of a committee room. Instead, it proceeded promptly to the floor of the Senate. The short term result was predicable: Senators offered numerous amendments, many of them including important improvements which might have been most appropriately dealt with in the committee process.
The majority leader’s frustration led to that bill being pulled after almost two weeks on the Senate floor. Now, a new bill is back. Instead of learning from our mistakes, the bill has once again been secretly negotiated, and will once again forgo the committee process.
What’s worse, we’ve been told that it will be presented to us with bipartisan amendments already chosen by a select few negotiators, unrepresentative of the wide variety of strongly held views in the Senate.
There are a list of Amendments which I believe ought to be included in this bill, amendments that I think may find support from many of my colleagues. Provisions, Mr. President, such as one which would prevent criminal aliens from delaying and even avoiding their deportation by filing frivolous Z Visa applications and appeals against their denied applications.
Another amendment would prohibit criminal aliens, including gang members and absconders, from tying up our courts by frivolous appeals from the denial of a request for a waiver of grounds for removal. The bottle neck, sure to ensue without these two provisions, will cause extensive delays that will only increase the costs involved with this bill, and allow abuse of the system.
A third would require judges to consider national security implications before issuing nationwide injunctions against immigration enforcement, an essential provision to protecting our border, something this bill claims to do.
I would like to add an amendment preventing those who have committed terrorist acts or aided terrorists from asserting “good moral character,” something which seems so inherently obvious that I am shocked that this bill would allow it. Last year, Mohammed El Shorbagi pleaded guilty to providing material support to the terrorist organization HAMAS. His conviction, however, did not specifically bar him from becoming a U.S. citizen, because under the law aiding an organization which routinely fires rockets on families and neighborhoods, abducts innocent civilians, and has most recently staged a violent coup of an established unity government, does not in any way affect your “good moral character.” It is a dangerous shortcoming of our laws which will not be addressed because of the closed and secretive manner by which this bill is being considered.
I would also like to limit the time frame for an appeal to two years, so that court proceedings don’t drag on endlessly, wasting tax dollars, and allowing an illegal alien to remain indefinitely, under the cover of an appeal.
These are only 5 of the amendments which I think are necessary to make this bill better. Others would make it harder for gang members to qualify, force immigrants to file a change of address notification to DHS when they move, and authorize the detention of dangerous aliens during their deportation trial.
Unfortunately, the majority leader has provided us with no opportunity for these measures to be considered and included in the final bill. Rather, the world’s greatest deliberative body will be presented with a bill that they have not had a full and fair opportunity to debate and amend. Since when did the Senate have so little say in the shaping of the legislation which they vote on? Since when did the majority leader get to force legislation on the rest of the Senate?
I cannot support this flawed bill or this broken, secret process that produced it. I hope my colleagues will join me in insisting upon the free and open debates which are the hallmark of the Senate, and which are the only possible path forward to providing a rational and common sense answer to the challenge of immigration reform.”