(Senate - April 17, 2013)

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[Page S2744]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                           IMMIGRATION REFORM

  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, at 2:24 a.m. this morning, the Group of 
8 finally unveiled their immigration reform bill. Since they began 
their meetings about 4 months ago, I have complimented them on their 
commitment to reforming our broken immigration system. I have sought 
their cooperation to ensure the bill goes through the committee 
process, and I have argued the bill must be open to amendment during 
consideration in committee and on the Senate floor. Every Member of the 
Senate must have an opportunity to read, analyze, and improve the bill.
  The bill we received is just under 900 pages, and it tackles some 
very important issues, including measures on border security, E-Verify 
and the entry-exit system. It includes the legalization program for 
people here unlawfully, including DREAM Act eligible students and 
undocumented workers in the agricultural sector. It attempts to move 
our system to a merit-based and point system. It revises asylum 
procedures and the court structure governing immigration appeals. It 
includes reforms to the highly skilled visa program and seasonal worker 
guest worker program. It changes the way we implement the visa waiver 
program, and it includes a brandnew, low-skilled temporary worker 
program that allows willing workers to enter the country without being 
sponsored by an employer.
  So you can see there is a lot covered in this bill. There are some 
new concepts. Yet the majority seems to want us to push this bill 
through the committee process and are intent on getting it to the floor 
by June. The sponsor of the bill, the senior Senator from New York, 
said he hopes the bill will be done in 8 weeks.
  On Friday, Secretary Napolitano is scheduled to appear before the 
Judiciary Committee. It is my intent to dig into the details of the 
bill with her to understand the mechanics and how the bureaucracy will 
handle these changes. The Secretary had better have answers, especially 
since this may be the only time we hear about how the administration 
will implement the major overhaul.
  The committee will then have a hearing on Monday to discuss the bill. 
However, the topics will be broad and all encompassing, I have been 
told. We have experts who need to be heard on this bill. Most 
importantly, because cost is a big factor around here, we need to hear 
from the Congressional Budget Office. Knowing how much this bill costs 
taxpayers and whether it will actually be budget neutral is a 
critically important matter.
  Let me reiterate my desire to work on this bill. I think we need 
changes to our immigration system and to approve legal avenues for 
people to enter and remain in the United States, but this is not 
something to be rushed. We have to get this right; otherwise, the goal 
of the bipartisan group to solve the problem once and for all will not 
end. We have a long road ahead of us in order to pass this legislation 
to reform our immigration system. We cannot tolerate anything less than 
a transparent and deliberative process to improve the bill.
  So let me get back to the point I made just a few seconds ago. This 
is something that cannot be rushed. We have to get it right. Let me say 
why I emphasize that.
  There are only a few of us in the Senate who voted on the 1986 
immigration bill. We thought we did it right. We thought by making it 
illegal, for the first time, for employers to hire undocumented 
workers--and have a $10,000 fine if they did--would take away the 
magnet that would bring people across the border so readily. Obviously, 
they come for a better life for themselves, and who can find fault with 
people who have good spiritual values, good family values, and good 
work ethics wanting to improve themselves. That is what America is all 
about. But entering the country illegally is not something a country 
based upon the rule of law can tolerate.
  Anyway, we made it illegal in 1986, and then added that fine. We 
didn't anticipate a whole industry of fraudulent documents, so that if 
someone goes to an employer and says they are here lawfully and shows 
them a passport that looks like it is the real thing, the employer 
cannot then be fined $10,000 for hiring them. So we thought we took 
away that magnet at the time and that we might as well legalize the 3 
million people who were here. We did that based on the proposition we 
were fixing this thing once and for all. But we know what happens when 
we make it legitimate to violate the rule of law. Instead of 3 million 
people, there are now 12 million people here in the country 
  So when I read the preamble of the document put out by the Group of 
8--and I am not finding fault with this--they make it very clear: We 
intend to--and I am paraphrasing it--fix this system once and for all 
so it never has to be revisited.
  That is exactly what we thought in 1986. Well, we were wrong. So that 
is why I come to the floor tonight to plead, as I did, about a 900-page 
bill that just came out at 2:24 this morning, and presumably the 
Secretary of Homeland Security is coming before our committee in less 
than 48 hours to answer our questions. I wonder if she can fully 
understand it so she can answer our questions.
  I think it is a legitimate question when the Group of 8 comes up with 
a proposition that we are going to fix this thing once and for all. 
Well, I hope they have a pattern to do that, and I hope they don't make 
the same mistake we did. But rushing this along has a tendency to be an 
environment for a screw-up like we had in 1986. We spent weeks and 
weeks on legislation to get it right, and we didn't get it right.
  I yield the floor.