[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 198 (Tuesday, December 5, 2017)]
From the Congressional Record Online through GPO
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Carolina.
Mr. SCOTT. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Portman). The clerk will call the roll.
The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order
for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Hoeven). Without objection, it is so
Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I want to make a few brief remarks
regarding the introduction of the Security, Enforcement, and Compassion
United in Reform Efforts, and we have selected the acronym SECURE for
this piece of legislation we are introducing today. This bill promotes
and protects the interests of the American people in a lawful
immigration system and provides a fair and equitable solution on
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and everyone in the Senate
knows that by the acronym DACA. It is the product of several months of
hard work between this Senator and Senators Cornyn, Graham, Tillis,
Lankford, Perdue, and Cotton. I think, before the day is out and the
Senate closes down, you will hear from almost all of those folks on
their approach to this legislation and their support for it.
Before I discuss what the bill does, I want to explain the process we
used to reach this point. On September 5, 2017, Attorney General
Sessions announced that President Trump had decided to rescind former
President Obama's unlawful Executive amnesty program. Because almost
700,000 young people relied on President Obama's false promise, the
Trump administration called upon Congress to do what the President
doesn't have the legal authority to do and to find the only real type
of long-term solution to this issue. Obviously, we are here because
that is a legislative solution and not something the executive branch
thinks up and tries to put in place.
Starting in September, I have held multiple meetings with Senators
Cornyn, Graham, Tillis, Lankford, Perdue, and Cotton to determine how
best to fix DACA. Our aim was to find a solution that not only is fair
for DACA recipients but also promotes the interests of the American
people. The immigration policies of the previous administration carried
consequences that weren't always in our best interest. For example,
President Obama allowed thousands of people to illegally cross our
borders and to stay in our country, including dangerous gang members,
sex offenders, and violent criminals. So robust border security is
crucial to bring integrity back to our Nation's immigration
The enforcement policies of the previous administration enabled
dangerous, unauthorized criminals, individuals like Kate Steinle's
killer, to have free rein in our country, risking the safety of
innocent Americans. The
flagrant disregard of so-called sanctuary jurisdictions unfairly takes
tax dollars from hard-working Americans, only to ignore the rule of law
and their own people's public safety.
In crafting our bill, we also considered the inherent unfairness in
our Nation's immigration court and asylum adjudication systems and how
hundreds of thousands of aliens wait in backlogs for years at a time.
That is wrong. It hurts the people who are stuck in the backlog, and it
is unfair to ask the American people and legal immigrants to bear the
burden of supporting these people while they wait.
Finally, thanks to the leadership of Senators Graham, Perdue, and
Cotton, we discussed in our small group of Senators the need for a
merit-based immigration system, one where we bring people to this
country based on what they can contribute and not simply because they
have some attenuated family relationship to a legal immigrant who is
So after having these discussions and after meeting with the
President to get his input and his support, we have come up with a
plan. This plan is fair to all parties. It is pro-American, and it is a
solution to DACA.
Our plan, as I said, which goes by an acronym, the SECURE Act of
2017, provides a solution to all of the issues we discussed. First,
building off of the hard work and leadership of Senator Cornyn, we are
putting days of porous, uncontrolled borders behind us. We are doing
this by mandating the construction of tactical and technological
infrastructure at the border. We are also beefing up our law
enforcement and judicial resources, and we are putting more boots on
the ground in the border States so that we can better apprehend and
prosecute those who enter our country illegally.
Our plan takes meaningful steps to end the lawlessness and tragedies
at the hands of dangerous criminal aliens throughout our country. We do
this by cracking down on sanctuary cities, ending the misguided catch-
and-release policies of the previous administration, and finally taking
real steps to address intentional visa overstays.
In recognition of the many Americans who have lost their lives to
criminal aliens, we included Kate's law, named after the person
murdered by a criminal felon who came back into our country five
times--Kate Steinle. So it is Kate's law. This legislation enhances
penalties for repeat illegal border crossers and expands the
inaccessibility and expedited removal of terrorists, gang members,
aggravated felons, and drunk drivers. We also provide a fix to the
disastrous Zadvydas decision so that the government doesn't keep
releasing dangerous criminals onto our streets just because of the
refusal of their home countries to take responsibility.
Our bill takes steps to eliminate many of the “pull” factors that
encourage people to immigrate illegally. We do this by permanently
authorizing the E-Verify Program and providing immunity and other
incentives to encourage small businesses to participate in that E-
Verify Program. We also take meaningful steps to reduce immigration
court and asylum adjudication backlogs by hiring more judges and
personnel, limiting the number of continuances an immigrant can
receive, and imposing new safeguards to combat well-documented fraud
Again, thanks to the leadership and advocacy of Senators Graham,
Perdue, and Cotton, our bill eliminates the phenomenon known as chain
migration. From the day this bill becomes law, immigrants will be able
to bring only their spouses and minor children into the country. This
bipartisan, pro-American worker reform, which the President strongly
supports, is an important first step toward creating the merit-based,
economically productive immigration system that both Democrats and
Finally and most importantly, we provide a bipartisan solution to
protect undocumented young people brought to the United States as
children by adopting a bill that goes by the acronym BRIDGE, Bar
Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy. Senator Durbin
called the BRIDGE Act “an opportunity for supporters and critics of
DACA to come together and address a compelling humanitarian issue on a
We agree with Senator Durbin. The BRIDGE Act is supported by Senators
Graham, Durbin, Gillibrand, Heller, Murkowski, Feinstein, Nelson,
Flake, Schumer, and Harris. It would provide relief from deportation
and work authorization to DACA recipients, allowing them to continue to
fulfill their dreams, and they will continue to contribute to our
As you can see, Mr. President, our plan has fair, bipartisan, and
serious provisions. By listening to colleagues and adopting solutions
that both sides can agree on, we are providing a real solution to the
immigration issues our country is facing. Our plan protects the DACA
kids, it cracks down on criminal illegal aliens, and it provides real
long-term reforms to our Nation's immigration system that benefit the
American people. It does so through the proper legislative process, in
other words, by a constitutional way--unlike a previous President tried
to do this--providing greater certainty for Americans and immigrants
Importantly, it is also supported by the President. That is all the
more reason to pass this bill and fulfill our promises to the American
people and the DACA recipients.
Again, I want to thank the hard work of Senators Cornyn, Graham,
Tillis, Lankford, Perdue, and Cotton, and their staffs, especially, in
developing the solution. I am looking forward to considering this
measure in the new year and seeing President Trump sign it into law, as
he asked us to do.
I see that two of my colleagues, Senator Lankford and Senator Tillis,
are here. I am giving up the floor, if you would like to speak.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Carolina.
Mr. TILLIS. Mr. President, I want to thank Chairman Grassley for his
leadership on this issue and for his willingness to sit down and talk
to a diverse group of people who think we have a problem that we should
solve and that we must solve.
Senator Grassley just did such a good job of describing some of the
technical aspects of the SECURE Act and the BRIDGE Act and other
legislation that actually came together to create the SECURE Act.
I want to back up and talk a little bit about what we are actually
trying to do here. There are two key components to this bill and to
efforts that have gone before the point at which we have introduced
this bill that I think are very important.
The first one is the DACA Program. That is Deferred Action for
Childhood Arrivals. The DACA Program is something that was implemented
in 2012 by President Obama. What President Obama sought to do was to
provide some certainty for young adults and children who were brought
across the border--not through their own decisions but through the
decisions of their parents or a guardian to cross the border
illegally--and find themselves illegally present in the United States.
Today, they are still protected because they are still protected under
DACA, but the President announced on September 5 that on March 5 that
program would end.
Now, you can imagine that there are hundreds of thousands of young
men and women who are uncertain about their future status in this
country. It is a problem we need to solve. The other side of the
equation is something that is also equally important to me and to a
number of people in this body. It has to do with our border security
and interior enforcement.
Back in late winter, I spent a week down on the southern border. I
went to the Rio Grande Sector and the West Texas Sector. I spoke with a
lot of people at the land ports that hundreds of thousands of people
cross every day. We listened to their concerns about things we need to
do to better secure the border.
There are two debates in Congress right now. I don't actually embrace
either of the two extremes. There is the one extreme that says build a
big, beautiful wall that is 2,000 miles long. It is impractical and not
There is the other extreme that says we don't need borders; we need
bridges. That is impractical and unsafe.
What we need is a solution to border security so that we know who is
in this country and so that we have an orderly way to move between
countries for someone who is in our country who
wants to come to work or visit the United States and return back in a
The other thing we have to look at in border security that I think is
oftentimes overlooked is the humanitarian crisis with an unsecure
border. There is one of the numbers that stuck with me. There were so
many that we covered when we were down with border security, but this
stuck with me--actually, two numbers. This one is most heartbreaking:
Over a 20-year period, 10,000 people have died crossing the border
unsuccessfully. Ten thousand bodies have been recovered as a result of
crossing the border and not finding their way to a safe place. About
1,000 of them were children. Unless we have the people, technology, and
infrastructure on the border to know who is trying to cross, we can't
protect them. Even if it means we are going to take them into custody
and potentially deport them, at least they will be alive.
Another statistic was very important to me, too. It was in a
discussion I had with border security agents down in Laredo, one of the
big land ports where people cross every day. I am not going to get into
a lot of the details, except to say that they confiscate about 400,000
doses of methamphetamine about every 48 hours in this one land port.
That is where they confiscate it. By most estimates, it is only a minor
percentage of all of the illegal drugs crossing the border. So we
obviously need more people, technology, and infrastructure to be able
to capture people who are crossing the border in various trucks and
cars. They are finding ways to hide these drugs that are poisoning our
Nation's youth and, really, people of all ages.
So there is a reason for border security. There is a reason to invest
in people, technology, and infrastructure. There is a reason for us to
have a productive discussion about how we can provide a compassionate,
sustainable solution to the children and young adults who came to this
country through not their decision but the decisions of their adult
That is what this bill, the SECURE Act, is setting forth. We are
trying to get a productive discussion going with Democrats and
Republicans who will come together and recognize that a balanced bill
provides for border security, provides a sustainable solution for the
DACA population, and get it done before March 5.
There are some people that want to, I think, play a little bit of
brinkmanship. They have already set in their mind how they want this
bill to look. What worries me about a bill where you use timing, maybe
a year-end budget agreement, or some other device to get the bill done,
is that that doesn't necessarily produce a bipartisan outcome that you
can be sure of is always going to be on the books. Those types of
bills--those types of quick “gotcha” sort of actions--are oftentimes
the bills somebody will try to come back to and repeal or revise.
We want a sustainable solution. We want a solution that is going to
work and give certainty to this DACA population for the rest of their
lives. I think the provisions of the BRIDGE Act that are now in the
SUCCEED Act do that.
I want to thank Senator Lankford. Senator Lankford and I filed
another bill. We are full of acronyms here. I don't know, but sometimes
they say we are full of other things, but we are full of acronyms. The
SUCCEED Act is another bill, and I think that many of its provisions
will be considered as we go through the negotiation process to get a
bill to the President's desk. The bill that we sponsored is the called
SUCCEED Act. It is the Solution for Undocumented Children through
Careers, Employment, Education, and Defending our Nation Act. It is a
lot like the BRIDGE Act, in that we go to the DACA population, and we
know something about the DACA population that I think is oftentimes
overlooked. It is a great group of people. There are a little bit less
than 2 million. Many of them are working hard, going to school, and
serving in our military. They deserve an opportunity and to be provided
a way to be able to recognize they are legally present in this country.
That is what I think we are going to accomplish with this SECURE Act.
This is what I hope my Democrat colleagues will do, those who actually
endorse the BRIDGE Act. There are many of them. Senator Grassley ran
through the list. I will not do it again. Let's sit down and solve this
problem. Let's accept that there are people at the far left who are
going to stand on one issue at the expense of letting March 5 pass and
have the DACA population at risk. Let's also tell the people at the far
right who want nothing less than full deportation, that that is not
going to happen.
Let the people in the center who want to come up with a sustainable,
respectful, compassionate solution that is paired up with solid border
security measures and interior enforcement, provide a solution for this
population. I think my colleagues who have worked together in the
working group that Chairman Grassley has led are committed to working
with Democrats to come up with a reasonable solution. I know that I am.
I know my colleague, Senator Lankford, is.
I hope that everybody will sit down and recognize that, at the end of
the day, this is for our Nation's security and the security and the
certainty of the DACA population. If we set out about accomplishing
those two goals, then I think we will be very successful. Then we can
start building on that dialogue for so many other things we need to
talk about when it comes to interior enforcement and immigration
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.
Mr. LANKFORD. Mr. President, I am honored to be here with several
other Members to talk about the issue of immigration. This has become a
very contentious issue. As soon as you say the word “immigration,”
there is a whole group of people who immediately start screaming
amnesty on every part of the conversation. Another whole group starts
screaming “jack-hooded thugs” trying to take grandmothers out of
their homes, and the whole conversation diminishes, and we lose the
policy issues that are in place.
There are obvious problems with immigration. We have not taken those
obvious issues on in decades. They need to be resolved, and every year
they are not resolved, this issue gets harder and it gets more
complicated. We should address the issue of immigration. For years, the
conversation has been out there, and for years, it has remained
unresolved. I would challenge this body in the next 3 months: Let's
resolve some of the big issues in immigration.
Almost 4 years ago, I was in Central America with a group of other
Senators and House Members. We were meeting with Central American
leaders, and we were meeting with them to talk about immigration and
about some of those individuals leaving those countries who were coming
to the United States illegally. But also, we met with them in Central
America to determine what they should do for immigration. Multiple
countries that were there in the conversation were talking about how
they were increasing their border requirements at their borders, how
they were managing their workforce within their country, and how
individuals from other Central American countries were traveling to
their countries and changing the job structure and changing the pay
We somehow get this belief that the immigration issue is only an
American issue. Every country in the world deals with immigration
because every country in the world has the right and the responsibility
to know who is in their country. Are they citizens? Are they
noncitizens? I should have the ability, in my country, to be able to
know who is coming in as a guest and to be able to say yes or no. That
is a basic right. For some reason, that becomes lost in all of this
When we fly anywhere else in the world, we have a visa or we have a
passport because when we enter that country, that country requires it.
That country, when we land, wants to know who is in their country and
where they are. That seems normal to us when we talk about travel, but
for some reason, it gets lost in this issue of immigration. This should
be a normal conversation--that our country would know who is in the
country, that we would know where they are, if they are a guest, and
that we would know when they are leaving.
After the 9/11 Commission finished, they challenged our Nation to
resolve one of the issues of immigration that sat out there that is
still unresolved to this day. It is entry-exit visas. Why can
we not know if a person comes in under a legal visa? We know when they
come in, but we don't know when they leave. That is still unresolved a
decade and a half later. Year after year, when I talk to Homeland
Security, they say: We are doing a pilot project. We are close.
Year after year, that is unresolved. The vast majority of the people
who are in our country illegally didn't cross a border illegally. They
came with a visa, they overstayed it, and they never left. We are never
asking the questions: Who is here, who is not here, and where do those
connections come from?
What I would like to find is a way to establish a group of
foundational issues that are commonsense solutions to the obvious
immigration issues that we face--and find common ground. We will have
disagreement in this body, but we should be able to find common ground
on immigration issues that we can all look at and say: That is a
reasonable way to do it. Probably, every Member of this body would do
it a little bit different, and we would have a different set of
preferences, but we should all agree it should be done. We have to
solve the obvious issues, and there are areas of common ground to be
able to do it.
Quite frankly, the President of the United States gave us quite a
gift about 3\1/2\ months ago when he said to the DACA Program: That is
an administrative program. It should be a legislative issue. I am not
going to renew that any more as an administrative issue. That needs to
be done in Congress.
For the first time in a long time, Congress has a deadline to be able
to deal with immigration. That is actually a very good gift because
this Congress has punted the immigration issue year after year without
a deadline to get it resolved. Now we do have one. That deadline is in
early March. I would suggest to this body: Let's get it resolved. Let's
find the areas where we can actually find common ground in this area.
Some should be pretty obvious.
Immigration courts, right now, have over half a million cases
backlogged and pending. Currently, if you are going to hire a new judge
to be able to be in the immigration courts, it will take 742 days to
hire one immigration judge. That is not right. That is ridiculous. We
should be able to get that resolved, to be able to add new judges to
our immigration courts, and to be able to help deal with the backlog of
over half a million people. The E-Verify system has been renewed in a
bipartisan way year after year. Let's take it beyond the temporary
program that it is right now. Some people don't know it is a temporary
program. Let's move it from a temporary program to a permanent program.
Let's do a permanent reauthorization. And let's make the tweaks and
changes that are needed, whether it is to be able to move E-Verify into
the hiring system, whether it is to be able to encourage individuals in
their hiring--for more companies to be able to use it, for it to be a
faster system that is more reliable. At times it can take up to 6
months to get a final answer from E-Verify. Again, that is absurd. That
is a fixable issue that we should be able to do.
We should be able to resolve the issue of chain migration. We somehow
believe that chain migration is an issue that has existed forever. It
has not. It has been around only since 1965. Prior to 1965, our
immigration issues were tighter than they are now. But now it has
formed into this system where you can have initially your nuclear
family, and then as you gain citizenship, you can add parents, and you
can eventually add siblings, and you can add other individuals, and it
continues to accelerate.
I am always frustrated when I hear people talk about our legal
immigration system in the United States and say that we should be more
open. We admit 1 million people a year through legal immigration--1
million a year. We are a very open country to legal immigration.
We need to be more precise. We need to base our immigration not just
on chains of family connections but actually what our Nation needs to
grow economically. I am not anti-family--far from it--but we should
have a reasonable system. Canada doesn't do it this way. Australia
doesn't do it this way. The UK doesn't do it this way. We still do. We
should be able to resolve this.
We should deal with the issue of border security. There has been a
lot of conversation about a wall. I don't think we should have a 2,000-
mile-long wall on our southern border and a multithousand-mile-long
wall on our northern border, but I do think we should be able to
monitor our border and know who is coming in and out. Not everyone is
coming just to work. There are individuals who are trafficking drugs
and people. We do need to be able to monitor them.
I have heard folks say that we don't need a wall anywhere. I totally
disagree. This whole adage of a 20-foot wall just begs for a 21-foot
ladder--if you talk to the homeland security folks and the border
security folks, they would say: Fine, put a 21-foot ladder there
because it slows you down in the process. A wall is not designed to
prevent you entirely; it is designed to slow you so we can actually
interdict you, prevent you from coming in.
Yuma, AZ, can tell us the story about when they put up a wall, how it
dramatically slowed down crime in Yuma, AZ, rather than just having an
open border. There are areas where we desperately need a wall. There
are other areas where we just need vehicular barriers. There are other
areas where we need drones, and we need greater technology. But we
certainly need more personnel in that area. It is one of the other
challenges we face.
The President said: Let's add 5,000 new people. Great. Do you know
how long it takes to hire one Border Patrol person? It takes 450 days--
450 days to hire one person on the Border Patrol. It is a broken system
of hiring. We need to fix that.
We need to do more rapid screening.
We certainly need to take care of the issue of sanctuary cities. All
of the Nation last week did a giant sigh for Kate Steinle's family.
Kate was murdered in San Francisco--a sanctuary city--by someone who
had seven felonies and who had been deported five times. Then a jury
said that because the bullet ricocheted off the ground, it wasn't
really murder. He can go free. We have to resolve the issue of
sanctuary cities. That is unjust. We are better than that as a nation.
We certainly should resolve the issue of DACA. We have kids who have
been in this country and have grown up in this country. They get up
every day, and they say the Pledge of Allegiance to this country. They
speak perfect English. They have great grades and no criminal history.
I asked people in my State: Who would you like to come into the country
and be free to join this country? If they say the pledge every day, if
they speak perfect English, if they are passionate about
entrepreneurship and starting companies and getting engaged, if they
have joined the military--that is exactly whom the people of my State
would like to see immigrate to this country to be a part of it.
Well, guess what. We have almost a million of them already living
here, but they have no legal status. They were brought here as a child
by their parents under no decision of their own. We should have a long-
term legislative solution. This particular bill that is under
discussion now has a short-term solution to that, something called the
BRIDGE Act. It is a 3-year legislative solution. It cries out for a
longer solution, but it at least gives additional certainty more so
than what DACA has.
I would challenge this body to look at all of these reasonable
solutions and to say: If we can't decide on these, let's start the
conversation. What can we decide on? How far can we get? How much can
we resolve in immigration?
Let's do it, and let's do it right. Let's start the conversation, but
let's finish it this time. We should negotiate with the House. They
have some great ideas. We should negotiate here. There are some
tremendous ideas on both sides of the aisle. But let's certainly get it
done. I look forward to that ongoing conversation. Let's get this
resolved in the days ahead.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas.
Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I know the Senator from Arkansas has some
remarks to make, so I will keep mine brief. I want to speak on the
introduction of the Security, Enforcement, and
Compassion United in Reform Efforts Act, or the SECURE Act, which we
will, under the provisions of rule XIV, put on the Senate calendar
following the vote on the nomination at 4 o'clock. This bill is a
product of a working group formed by Chairman Grassley of the Senate
Judiciary Committee--the committee with jurisdiction over immigration
matters. I have been a part of that, as have Senators Graham, Tillis,
Lankford, Perdue, and Cotton.
I would say to our friend from Illinois, we are all united in the
desire to actually come up with a solution to this problem.
Our working group had two assignments. The first was to adopt reforms
to secure America's borders and enforce our immigration laws. The
second was to find a compassionate solution for those individuals who
received deferred action under the DACA Program created by President
Obama in 2012.
When I introduced a border security bill--the Building America's
Trust Act--in August, I made clear that the main purpose for that was
to create solutions that we could put in place to deal with our porous
borders and that throwing money at the problem is not the answer, but
it was also contemplating that at some point in the not too distant
future, we would need to combine border security and enforcement
measures with a solution for the recipients of the deferred action
under President Obama, which now President Trump has appropriately sent
back to Congress for us to address.
Coming from the State with the longest border with a foreign
country--the State of Texas--I can tell my colleagues that my
understanding and appreciation for border security are multifaceted. It
requires boots on the ground, it requires technology, and it requires
improvements in aging infrastructure at our ports of entry. But it also
requires new authorities and enhancements to existing immigration laws
to close loopholes that incentivize people who repeatedly violate our
We can all agree that we need to protect America's international
borders, whether they be to the north or south. Each day that we fail
to put the needed resources and laws in place for border security and
interior enforcement, we strengthen the resolve of drug cartels, gangs,
and transnational criminal organizations to encroach on our sovereignty
If we are going to act to help folks who were brought here by their
parents, for whom we all have compassion--and thanks to President
Obama's insistence on going around Congress in violation of the law,
they now find themselves in limbo--prioritizing the resources needed to
secure the border is the first step. It is not the last step, it is the
first step. If we can demonstrate our ability to deal with a
compassionate solution for the DACA recipients and combine that with
real border security and interior enforcement, I would propose that we
don't need to stop there, but we do need to regain the public's
confidence that we are capable of dealing with these issues in a
The DACA Program was designed to help those who were brought here
illegally, but it was not created lawfully. President Trump, as I said,
did the right thing when he kicked it back to Congress. So we have now
introduced a bill that will address the very issues that our friends
across the aisle say they care about the most: a solution for the DACA
recipients. This bill provides a framework for a legislative proposal
that we can support and that will regain America's trust.
I have told both Senator Schumer, the Democratic leader, and my
friend Senator Durbin from Illinois that I stand ready to work with
them on a proposal that includes the four pillars of the GOP framework:
border security, interior enforcement, improvements to the E-Verify
system, and some limits on chain migration. I hope they will come back
to the table and respond to this proposal. I hope they will also quit
threatening to shut down the government, which won't solve the problem
but, indeed, will make it worse.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arkansas.
Mr. COTTON. Mr. President, I want to associate myself with much of
what my Republican colleagues have said about the immigration bill we
are working on--or perhaps I should say, to be more accurate, the
immigration bill we should be working on, because the Democrats at this
point simply will not take yes for an answer. We are offering a package
that they should support, and in return, they are threatening to shut
down the government.
So let me just dispense off the top with their argument, such as it
is, about the so-called DACA recipients.
No one is eager to deport 690,000 illegal immigrants who are here
mostly through no fault of their own. They were left in legal limbo by
President Obama, and everyone wants to find a good, durable, long-term
But if we are going to give legal status to these illegal immigrants
in their twenties and their thirties, we have to recognize that there
are going to be negative side effects.
First, we are going to encourage parents from around the world who
live in poverty and oppression and war to illegally immigrate to our
country with small children. What could be more dangerous and even
immoral than that?
Second, we are going to create a whole new category of Americans who
could get legal status for their extended family, to include the very
parents who brought them here in violation of our laws. We often hear
that children ought not pay for the crimes of their parents. That may
be so, but surely parents can pay for the crimes of the parents. They
are the ones who created the situation in the first place.
I offered legislation with Senator Perdue earlier this year called
the RAISE Act. It had many features in it to replace unskilled and low-
skilled immigration with high-skilled immigration, to limit chain
migration, to reform our refugee program, and to eliminate our
diversity lottery. This Congress needs to take up our legislation and
pass it. But today I want to focus on chain migration in particular
because chain migration is one of the biggest categories of immigration
that bring unskilled and low-skilled workers to this country to compete
for jobs and drive down the wages of working Americans.
Did you know that once you have legal status in this country, once
you have a green card and become a citizen, you can bring to this
country not only your spouse and your unmarried minor children but your
adult children and their spouses and their children and your adult
brother and your adult sister and your parents and their siblings--and
it goes on and on and on. That is why it is called chain migration.
Our legislation would put a halt to chain migration. It is a kind of
downpayment on long-lasting legal immigration reform, in addition to
things like strengthening E-Verify, improving security at our border,
and Kate's Law, named in honor of Kate Steinle, as we heard Chairman
Grassley outline earlier today.
We are also pairing those provisions with a bill that Democrats and
Republicans should support, the BRIDGE Act. The idea of this bill is
simple enough--that everyone who has a DACA card gets 3-year
provisional status. That gives them certainty without giving them
permanent residency or citizenship, which I think sounds pretty
reasonable. I know the Democrats agree with me, too, because earlier
this year they were calling for passage of the BRIDGE Act. The BRIDGE
Act is supported by Members of both parties, as Chairman Grassley
outlined, including many prominent Democratic Senators--both Senators
from California, the senior Senator from Florida, the junior Senator
from New York, even the minor leader and the minority whip. In fact,
the minority whip called the BRIDGE Act a bipartisan breakthrough.
If the Democrats were to oppose our legislation today, the SECURE
Act, the question would be, Why? Well, I think I know what they might
say. They might say: Oh, those terrible Republicans have added a bunch
of terrible Republican ideas to this bill. Let me just ask, which of
these provisions are so terrible? That we secure our border? Countries
have borders, and those borders have to be secure. Is it terrible that
we stop unscrupulous employers from hiring illegal immigrants by
strengthening E-Verify? When people say that E-Verify doesn't work,
what they mean is--E-Verify works. What they mean is that they want
to be able to hire illegal immigrants, to take jobs away from Americans
and pay them submarket wages.
What about discouraging illegal and highly dangerous border
To get back to chain migration, do we really want a system in which
green cards are given out by random chance? Because that is what we
have not just in the diversity lottery but through chain migration.
Today, you can get a green card in this country simply because someone
in your extended family happened to immigrate to this country 20 or 30
or 40 years ago, irrespective of your ability to stand on your own two
feet in our economy, to get a job and pay taxes and not take welfare,
to assimilate into our culture.
Shouldn't we have an immigration system that focuses on the needs of
America's workers and the American economy, not one that gives out
green cards by random chance the way we have today? Shouldn't we be
focused on the jobs and the wages of American citizens? After all, they
are who elected us to come here to represent their interests.
I don't think this is unreasonable, and, frankly, I don't think the
Democrats do either. They have supported the BRIDGE Act. They have
supported reform of other immigration programs--temporary visas--
because they worry about the impact of immigration on lower wage, blue-
Now, the Republicans have stepped up and done exactly what the
Democrats have said they wanted: We have offered a real, long-term
solution for persons who have received a DACA work permit. All we are
asking for in exchange are commonsense reforms to prevent another
situation, like the one happening now, in the future. So it is time for
Democrats and Republicans to come together and support this bill.
If you are serious about helping these DACA permit recipients, you
should vote for this bill now. It is good for those DACA recipients, it
is good for American workers, it is good for our communities, and it
will be a good first step toward lasting pro-American, pro-worker
I yield the floor.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for
the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that all time be
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
The question is, Will the Senate advise and consent to the Nielsen
Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
There appears to be a sufficient second.
The clerk will call the roll.
The bill clerk called the roll.
Mr. CORNYN. The following Senator is necessarily absent: the Senator
from Tennessee (Mr. Alexander).
Further, if present and voting, the Senator from Tennessee (Mr.
Alexander) would have voted “yea.”
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Strange). Are there any other Senators in
the Chamber desiring to vote?
The yeas and nays resulted--yeas 62, nays 37, as follows:
[Rollcall Vote No. 305 Leg.]
The nomination was confirmed.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Johnson). Under the previous order, the
motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table and the
President will be immediately notified of the Senate's action.
The Senator from Alabama.