(Senate - June 25, 2013)

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[Pages S5112-S5119]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
resume consideration of S. 744, which the clerk will report.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (S. 744) to provide for comprehensive immigration 
     reform and for other purposes.


       Leahy modified amendment No. 1183, to strengthen border 
     security and enforcement.
       Boxer-Landrieu amendment No. 1240, to require training for 
     National Guard and Coast Guard officers and agents in 
     training programs on border protection, immigration law 
     enforcement, and how to address vulnerable populations, such 
     as children and victims of crime.
       Cruz amendment No. 1320, to replace title I of the bill 
     with specific border security requirements, which shall be 
     met before the Secretary of Homeland Security may process 
     applications for registered immigrant status or blue card 
     status and to avoid Department of Homeland Security budget 
       Leahy (for Reed) amendment No. 1224, to clarify the 
     physical present requirements for merit-based immigrant visa 
       Reid amendment No. 1551 (to modified amendment No. 1183), 
     to change the enactment date.
       Reid amendment No. 1552 (to the language proposed to be 
     stricken by the reported committee substitute amendment to 
     the bill), to change the enactment date.
       Reid amendment No. 1553 (to amendment No. 1552), of a 
     perfecting nature.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.
  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, yesterday the Senate voted to adopt an 
amendment offered by Senators Corker and Hoeven relating to border 
  I have some misgivings about the policy contained in that amendment, 
and I have spoken to that on the floor. But, at the same time, I 
commend these Senators for engaging on this legislation and taking the 
steps they feel are necessary to gain broader support for the 
underlying bill. We are now one step--one big step--closer to a

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Senate vote on comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
  I would like to take just a few moments to reflect on why this 
legislation is so important and to remind the Senate that as we 
consider the bill, we should remember that at its core it is about 
people. It is about families seeking the promise of America. It is 
about children whose parents want what any parent wants for their 
child--the opportunity to succeed, to prosper, to live in a free, open 
and welcoming society.
  To me, the bill is less about numbers and metrics or border fences 
and technology than it is about human beings and the natural desire we 
all have to better ourselves, our families, and to give our children 
the lives we wish for them.
  The measures in this legislation will give those affected by it the 
freedom to get on the path to becoming Americans. Our history of 
immigration is one that honors our free and open society and which has 
strengthened it.
  Immigration has, in part, been the story of enlarging a society made 
up of individuals who, no matter their vast differences, all believe in 
the promise of American democracy and the values given to us in our 
Constitution. When we welcome those who yearn for these values, we 
strengthen and renew them.
  Of course, we are a nation of immigrants. Past immigration has helped 
shape this country and deepen its economic and cultural vibrancy, 
touching every State and every community--from the Presiding Officer's 
far western State of Hawaii to my own northeastern State of Vermont.
  After the Revolutionary War and into the early 1880s, for example, 
Vermont had been the slowest growing State in the Union. Old growth 
forests had been stripped and farms had been worn out. But immigrants 
helped reclaim forsaken farms and build and operate budding new 
factories in new centers of industry across the Green Mountain State.
  The United States has been made stronger by the diverse cultural 
background that has been woven into our national fabric. This Vermonter 
is the grandson of immigrants to Vermont from Ireland and Italy, and 
our heritage is one of which my family and I are fiercely proud.
  To appreciate the values inherent in our immigration policy, I need 
only to look at the experiences of my own family and the family of my 
wife Marcelle. Marcelle's mother and father, Louis Philippe Pomerleau 
and Cecile Bouchard Pomerleau, immigrated to the United States from the 
Province of Quebec in Canada. Marcelle is a first-generation American 
born in Newport, VT, and, of course, to me, is the greatest 
contribution her mother and father made to Vermont and America.
  But Marcelle's mother and father contributed much to Vermont and to 
America in business, in music, and enriched their own community. 
Members of her family went on to establish successful businesses and 
become leaders in their communities and they have given greatly to 
Vermont. Marcelle grew up to serve the communities in which she lived 
as a registered nurse, caring for others in Burlington, VT, in 
Washington, DC, and in Arlington, VA.
  Similar to many young immigrants in our country, Marcelle grew up in 
a bilingual household, knowing two different cultures. But this is 
America for so many, where young people grow up in families where 
multiple languages are spoken, where traditions from multiple cultures 
are observed. This enriches America.
  My maternal grandparents came to this country from Italy. My 
grandfather, similar to many others who came to Vermont from Italy, was 
a granite carver. He opened a granite business in central Vermont. The 
hard work and determination of my maternal grandparents--who did not 
speak English when they arrived--to settle in this country laid the 
foundation for my mother and our family.
  My paternal great-grandparents came from Ireland, and my grandfather, 
who was named Patrick Leahy--and I am named after him--worked in a 
stone quarry as well. They worked hard. They had a family. I grew up 
the son of printers in Montpelier, our State capital.
  But nearly every American family has a story similar to mine and 
Marcelle's. We are more alike than we are different from today's 
immigrants and first-generation Americans.
  The majority of new immigrants will continue this proud tradition of 
hard work, the drive toward prosperity, and embracing the values that 
make America great. They will someday tell their children and 
grandchildren of their own immigrant histories, as Marcelle and I 
learned from our parents and our grandparents. The bill we consider 
will continue to cycle growth and renewal. It will improve on many 
aspects of our immigration system.
  The bill before us contains measures that are important to many 
Vermonters. I have a provision that takes an important step toward 
restoring privacy rights to millions of people who live near the 
northern border by injecting some oversight into the decisionmaking 
process for operating Federal checkpoints and entering private land 
without a warrant far from the border.
  The bill contains significant measures to assist dairy farmers and 
other Vermont growers who have long relied on foreign workers and are 
going to need them in the future. It contains a youth jobs program 
proposed by Senator Sanders to help young people gain employment. It 
contains a measure I proposed to make sure that no Canadian citizen 
traveling to Vermont to see a family member will ever be charged a fee 
for crossing our shared and long and wonderful border.
  It contains an improvement to the visas used by nonprofit arts 
organizations around the country, such as the Vermont Symphony 
Orchestra that invites talented foreign artists to perform in America. 
It contains measures to improve the lives and future of refugees and 
asylum seekers who call Vermont home.
  It contains improvements to the H-2B program to help small 
businesses. It contains a measure to ensure that the job-creating E-B5 
program be made permanent so the State of Vermont and other States can 
continue the great work that is being done--in our State, done to 
improve Vermont communities.
  This is a bill that will help Vermont families and businesses alike. 
So I discuss this legislation today in the context of my personal 
history. I do it to take a moment to remind all of us that immigration 
is about more than border security. It is about more than politics. It 
is about the lives and hopes and dreams of human beings. It is about 
those who go on to do great things in America. It is about American 
communities that benefit from immigration.
  That has been our history; it should also be our future. As I said 
before, the legislation before us will help write the next great 
chapter in America's history of immigration. I see the distinguished 
ranking member on the floor.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Heitkamp). The Senator from Iowa.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. As we have seen over the past 2 weeks, immigration is a 
very emotional issue. It is an issue that engenders strong feelings 
from both sides of the aisle and maybe out in the grass roots of 
America even stronger feelings than are expressed on the floor of the 
  Everyone wants reform in the Senate. I have not heard anybody say the 
present situation is A-OK, but everyone has their own ideas and 
different solutions.
  Now, at the grass roots of America, there are people who say we ought 
to give citizenship yesterday. There are people on the other side who 
say 12 million people ought to be rounded up and shipped out of the 
country. Neither one of those are very realistic today, but those are 
even stronger voices than you hear on the floor of the Senate.
  Now, we are trying to find some reasonable solution. I do not think 
the bill that is eventually going to pass is a reasonable solution. But 
I will not know whether this is a reasonable solution until we get 
through the entire legislative process, meaning the House of 
Representatives and the conference. But I think down the road we can do 
much better than is going to be done in the Senate.
  Now, as I said, everybody has their own ideas and different 
solutions. Unfortunately, the process has not allowed us to 
fundamentally improve this bill on the floor of the Senate like we were 
able to have that chance--not too successfully--but at least we had 
that chance in committee with that

[[Page S5114]]

fair and open process. So out here on the floor of the Senate we have 
not been able to vote up or down on commonsense amendments or very many 
amendments at all. I think to this point about 9, 10, 11 amendments are 
all that we have considered out of 451 that have been offered.
  Despite the fact that the American people want the border secured 
before we provide a path to legalization, this bill appears to be 
favored by a majority in the body who believe that legalization must 
come before border security. I ought to say that again. Despite the 
fact that the American people want border security before we provide a 
path to legalization, there appears to be a majority in this body who 
believe that legalization must come before border security.
  The polls around America show just the opposite. Border security 
first, everything else after the border is secured. This approach of 
legalization first is concerning, not only because the border will not 
be secured for years down the road, but more importantly because it 
devalues the principle that is very basic to our country and our 
constitutional system of government, the rule of law. The rule of law 
means the government will follow the laws it writes, and we expect the 
people to do likewise. People need to be able to trust their government 
and trust that the government will be fair.
  I empathize with people who come into this country to have a better 
life. Who is going to blame them for doing that? We would do anything 
to give our kids a better life. Some people see no other choice but to 
cross the border without papers to find work and sacrifice everything 
they have to do it and to take a chance that they are going to run up 
against the law and be deported. But they do it because they want a 
better life. That is very basic to the American way of life. It is a 
natural right of most people around the world, a natural right that 
most of them are not able to bring to fruition.
  The American people happen to be very compassionate. I know they are 
just trying to find a better opportunity and live the American dream, 
those people who come here undocumented. We are the best country in the 
world. We should be proud of it. We are an exceptional nation. But we 
are a great country because we have always abided by the rule of law. 
The rule of law is what makes all opportunities we have possible.
  In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt sent a message to the Congress, 
the State of the Union Message. He talked about how man must be 
guaranteed his liberty and the right to work. But so long as a man does 
not infringe upon the rights of others, he said this:

       No man is above the law and no man is below it, nor do we 
     ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it.

  Meaning the law.

       Obedience to the law is demanded as a right, not as a 

  I am a believer, just like everybody in this body, in the rule of 
law, despite what some say, including the majority leader. That does 
not mean we want to deport 11 million people. I want a humane and fair 
process for them to live, work, and remain here. I have said many 
times, and I have said it many times particularly in the past few 
months, that we do not necessarily need more laws, but rather we need 
to enforce the laws that are already on the books.
  That is what I hear at my townhall meetings when people come to them 
and I start to explain about immigration. Somebody pops up: Right. We 
do not need more laws; we just need to enforce what we have on the 
  I agree. We need to enhance and expand legal avenues for people who 
want to enter, live, and work in this country. But we have laws that 
have gone ignored for 17 years. We have laws that are undermined and 
disregarded. The country will benefit if we have sensible immigration 
laws. One of the failings of the 1986 law was that it did not do enough 
to create avenues for people to work here. Advocates for reform claim 
they want a long-term solution, but what we have before us is nothing 
but a short-term bandaid. Really, what the bill does is clean the 
  Those words ``clean the slate'' was a phrase that we used in 1986. 
That was the goal, to clean the slate, and we would start all over 
again. I referred many times--it is probably sickening to a lot of 
people in this body when I refer to the mistakes we made in 1986, not 
to repeat them. But here we are. We want to clean the slate again and 
start over. The problem is, if we just do the same thing we did in 
1986, we will be back here in 25 years or less wanting to do the same 
  So some Senators are going to say: In 2038, all we need to do is 
clean the slate. Well, we said that in 1986. We did clean the slate. We 
are back here in 2013 cleaning the slate again. We should have a long-
term solution to these immigration issues. We should pass true and 
meaningful reform; and in doing so, we should not be ignoring the very 
principle on which our country was founded, on the rule of law.
  We should not have to in any way be apologetic for taking this 
position either. One would get the opinion by hearing some speeches on 
the floor of the Senate that some people have more respect for people 
who violated our law than they have respect for the rule of law or 
people who have abided by the law. We have people from all over the 
world at our embassies, standing in line for long periods of time to 
come to this country legally. Those are the people whom we ought to be 
  I do not mean we disrespect people who come here to work. But there 
is one thing: They did violate our laws to come here. We do not have to 
apologize for not accepting the fact that it is OK to violate the laws. 
So we should not be apologetic for any position we take that is backed 
by the rule of law, the foundation of our society.
  Why should we have to apologize for wanting to ensure people live by 
the laws that we set? We will not survive as a country if we allow 
people to ignore the law and be rewarded for it. We just cannot be a 
country of lawlessness. Why is wanting to secure the border anti-
immigration? It is not. We are a sovereign nation. It is our duty to 
protect the people of this country. That is the first responsibility of 
the Federal Government, to guarantee our sovereignty because it is 
basic to our security. It is our right to create procedures whereby 
others can come to this country and make a living for themselves.
  This does not mean we do not want other people from other countries. 
After all, except for Native Americans we are all a country of 
immigrants, some first generation and some, I suppose, fifth or sixth 
generation. We want to ensure that we protect our sovereignty. We want 
to protect the homeland.
  So I ask my colleagues to think about how our country's immigration 
laws will survive the test of time. If this bill passes as is, will it 
be a temporary fix or something that we can be proud of for generations 
to come?
  It is my understanding that, so far, 449 amendments have been filed 
to this underlying bill, including second-degree amendments. We started 
off the debate on the Senate floor with my amendment that would have 
required the border to be ``effectively controlled'' for 6 months 
before the Secretary could legalize people who are already present. We 
would call them, under this bill, registered provisional immigrants, 
and we referred to it as RPI status.
  Clearly, the other side was afraid of the amendment I offered because 
it would have fundamentally changed the bill by requiring that the 
border be secured before granting 11 million undocumented workers a 
pathway to citizenship--but not, contrary to what the polls of the 
people of this country are telling us--they want security first, 
legalization after security of the borders. They have already cooked 
the books on this bill and don't want to make fundamental changes, 
regardless of whether they are good changes, because they don't want to 
upset their deal. They have insisted on a 60-vote threshold for 
amendments to pass.
  When my amendment was up, I refused that 60-vote requirement and so 
they tabled my amendment. This raises the question: What about the open 
and fair process that we were promised? We learned on day one of the 
immigration debate that all of this talk about ``making the bill 
better'' was just plain hogwash. It was all just a phony and empty 
  The sponsors would take the floor and say they were ready to vote on 
amendments, but in reality they were afraid of any good change. They 
refused to let Members offer amendments

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of their own choosing. Instead, they wanted to pick what amendments 
Members would offer. They want to decide who, what, when, and how it 
would be disposed of. Of course, that is not right, that is not the 
open process that was promised.
  In the last 2 weeks we have only debated nine amendments on this 
bill. Of those amendments, the majority leader tabled three amendments 
on a rollcall vote. Of the nine, we adopted three amendments by a 
rollcall vote. We rejected three amendments by a rollcall vote, and we 
adopted another three amendments by a voice vote.
  I am sure everyone would agree that debating 9 amendments out of 450 
is not a fair and open process. We have a lot more amendments that have 
been filed and not considered. These amendments would make this bill 
better. The sponsors of the bill are arguing that because we had a 
process in the Judiciary Committee that I have applauded as fair and 
open, that means we don't need such an open and fair process on the 
floor of the Senate.
  What does that say about the other 82 Members of this body, that they 
shouldn't be allowed to offer amendments? The problem is while the 
committee process was open, many amendments were defeated, and no 
amendments were offered that substantially changed the bill in 
  In order to address many issues with this bill, we would like to vote 
on more amendments before the end of the week. I wish to discuss some 
of the amendments we would like to see debated and considered before 
this immigration debate comes to an end, so people have a flavor of the 
kind of issues we believe have not been fully vetted on the floor of 
the Senate in this process that we were promised was going to be fair 
and open.
  A number of amendments we would like considered would strengthen 
provisions of the bill dealing with border security, something that the 
current bill fails to do in a satisfactory manner. As everyone knows, 
this has been a serious deficiency in the immigration reform bill, 
regardless of the fact that the polls in this country say people want 
the border secured first and then legalization. This does it the 
opposite way: legalizes and then maybe the border will be secure.
  For example, Lee amendment No. 1207 would prohibit the Secretaries of 
the Interior and Agriculture from restricting or prohibiting activities 
of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on public lands and authorize 
Customs and Border Protection access to Federal lands to secure the 
  Coats amendment No. 1442 would require the Secretary of Homeland 
Security to certify that the Department of Homeland Security has 
effective control of high-risk border sections at the southern border 
for 6 months before the Department can process RPI status applications. 
The Coats amendment would also require the Secretary to maintain 
effective control of those high-risk sections for at least 6 months 
before the Secretary may adjust the status of the RPI applicants.
  Coburn amendment No. 1361 would allow Customs and Border Protection 
to enforce immigration laws on Federal lands. What is wrong with that 
amendment, to enforce immigration laws on Federal lands?
  Other amendments would beef up our interior enforcement, which we all 
know is absolutely critical with respect to the success of our 
immigration system. This is an area where the underlying bill doesn't 
do enough.
  An excellent amendment we haven't had an opportunity to debate and 
vote on is Sessions amendment No. 1334. That amendment would give a 
number of tools to State and local governments to enforce the 
immigration laws, including giving States and localities the ability to 
enact their own immigration laws, withholding specific grants from 
sanctuary cities that defy Federal immigration enforcement efforts, 
facilitating and expediting the removal of criminal aliens, improving 
the visa issuance process, and, lastly, assisting U.S. Immigration and 
Customs and Enforcement officers in carrying out their jobs.
  Another amendment is Wicker amendment No. 1462, which would require 
information sharing between Federal and non-Federal agencies regarding 
removal of aliens, which would allow for quick enforcement against 
individuals who violate immigration laws. The Wicker amendment would 
also withhold certain Federal funding from States and local governments 
that prohibit their law enforcement officers from assisting or 
cooperating with Federal immigration law enforcement.
  Some of the amendments that we haven't considered would ensure that 
our criminal laws are not weakened by the bill. I have an amendment, 
No. 1299, that would address some of the provisions in the underlying 
bill that severely weaken our current criminal laws.
  Isn't that funny. We want to have a better immigration bill, and we 
are going to weaken certain laws that are already on the books?
  Specifically, my amendment No. 1299 would address language in the 
bill that creates a convoluted and ineffective process for determining 
whether a foreign national in a street gang should be deemed 
inadmissible or be deported. I offered a similar amendment in committee 
where even two Members of the Gang of 8 supported it. My 
amendment would have closed a dangerous loophole created by the bill 
that will allow criminal gang members to gain a path to citizenship.

  Specifically, in order to deny entry and remove a gang member, 
section 3701 of the bill requires that the Department of Homeland 
Security prove a foreign national, No. 1, has a prior Federal felony 
conviction for drug trafficking or a violent crime; No. 2, has 
knowledge that the gang is continuing to commit crimes; and, No. 3, has 
acted in furtherance of gang activity.
  Even if all of these provisions could be proven, under the bill the 
Secretary can still issue a waiver. As such, the proposed process is 
limited only to criminal gang members with prior Federal drug 
trafficking and Federal violent crime convictions and does not include 
State convictions such as rape and murder.
  The trick is while the bill wants you to believe that this is a 
strong provision, foreign nationals who have Federal felony drug 
trafficking or violent crime convictions are already subject to 
deportation if they are already here and denied entry as being 
  The gang provisions, as written in the bill, add nothing to current 
law and will not be used. It is, at best, a feel-good measure to say we 
are being tough on criminal gangs while really doing nothing to remove 
or deny entry to criminal gang members.
  It is easier to prove that someone is a convicted drug trafficker 
than both a drug trafficker and a gang member. As currently written, 
why would this provision ever be used and, simply put, it wouldn't be 
  My amendment, No. 1299, would strike this do-nothing provision and 
issue a new, clear, simple standard to address the problem of gang 
members. It would strike this do-nothing provision and include a 
process to address criminal gang members where the Secretary of 
Homeland Security must prove, No. 1, criminal street gang membership; 
and, No. 2, that the person is a danger to the community.
  Once the Secretary proves these two things, the burden shifts to 
foreign nationals to prove that either he is not dangerous, not in a 
street gang, or he did not know the group was a street gang. It is 
straightforward and it will help remove dangerous criminal gang 
  My amendment also eliminates the possibility of a waiver. Amendment 
No. 1299 should have a vote to make sure the bill doesn't weaken our 
current law.
  There are a number of other amendments that we would like to see 
considered that would help ensure that individuals comply with the 
immigration law requirements and ensure that the RPI process does not 
allow individuals to game the system.
  For example, Rubio amendment No. 1225 would require RPI immigrants 16 
years old or older to read, write, and speak English.
  Fischer amendment No. 1348 would also insert an English-language 
requirement as a prerequisite to RPI status.
  Cruz amendment No. 1295 would require States to require proof of 
citizenship for registration to vote in Federal elections.
  Hatch amendment No. 1536 would ensure that undocumented immigrants

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actually pay their back taxes before gaining legalization.
  Another amendment, Toomey amendment No. 1440, would increase the 
number of W nonimmigrant visas available during each fiscal year and 
would help improve the visa system.
  Other amendments that we should debate and vote on would strengthen 
our immigration system by making sure that we don't allow criminal 
immigrants to stay in our country and be put on a path to American 
  For example, Vitter amendment No. 1330 would make sure that 
undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of crimes of domestic 
violence, child abuse, and child neglect would be inadmissible.
  Inhofe amendment No. 1203, entitled ``Keep Our Communities Safe 
Act,'' would allow the Department of Homeland Security or a subsidiary 
agency to keep dangerous individuals in detention until a final order 
of removal of that individual from the United States.
  Cornyn amendment No. 1470 would make sure undocumented immigrants who 
have committed an offense of domestic violence, child abuse, child 
neglect, or assault resulting in bodily injury, violated a protective 
order or committed a drunk-driving violation, would be ineligible for 
  Portman amendment No. 1389 would limit the discretion of immigration 
judges and the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the 
removal, deportation, and inadmissibility of undocumented individuals 
who have committed crimes involving child abuse, child neglect, and 
other crimes of moral turpitude concerning children.
  Finally, Portman amendment No. 1390 would ensure that undocumented 
immigrants who have been convicted of crimes of domestic violence, 
stalking, and child abuse would be inadmissible.
  I have gone through a whole bunch of amendments. These are all 
extremely important amendments that would ensure that the worst kinds 
of criminal immigrants do not gain a path to citizenship.
  I urge the majority to allow us to consider these and other 
amendments that we would like to offer to improve the bill, instead of 
cutting us off and shutting off full and open debate of this very 
important issue--something that we were told from day one, that we 
would have an open and fair process.
  What we are doing, voting this amendment to the House of 
Representatives on Thursday and Friday, ends up not being a fair and 
open process.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Madam President, I rise to speak on the immigration 
bill, and I will do so, particularly on the amendment process my friend 
and colleague from Iowa has discussed, but first let me say a few words 
about two of the President's nominees whose confirmations we will 
address later today or within the next day or so.


  Penny Pritzker will truly be a great Secretary of Commerce, in my 
view. She has experience and acumen and ability that will serve her 
well in building strong relationships in the Federal Government, but 
also strong partnerships with the business community in promoting job 
creation and fostering sustained economic growth. She has been a strong 
leader not only in her own business, but in her community, and I look 
forward to working with her as the Chair of the Subcommittee on 
Competitiveness, Innovation, and Export Promotion in the Committee on 
Commerce, Science, and Transportation where I serve.
  Mayor Anthony Foxx, if he becomes Secretary of Transportation, 
likewise has a record of accomplishment as a local official, as a 
strong mayor, and I look forward to working with him on investment in 
high-speed rail, distracted and drunk driving, air safety, rail safety, 
and all of the issues that are so important to the infrastructure of 
our country and to the transportation issues that will help promote 
jobs and increase economic progress.
  I will be submitting statements for the Record at greater length on 
these two nominees who I believe embody the principle of excellence and 
dedication in public service.
  Madam President, we are reaching a fateful and extremely important 
moment in the history of our country when we have the great 
opportunity, the exciting and energizing prospect, of providing a path 
to earned citizenship for 11 million of our fellow residents. They live 
alongside us, in our neighborhoods and communities, and they serve on 
community boards and all kinds of activities where they are 
indistinguishable from citizens except for the fact they are not 
citizens. There are 11 million people living in the shadows, including 
young people brought to this country when they were infants or as 
children, who know only English as a language, whose home is here, and 
who know only this country as their home, whose friends and life are 
here, their schools, and even the military many of them serve. The 
DREAMers are among those 11 million, and their parents and loved ones 
who came with them to this country.
  We have this historic opportunity to provide them with a path to 
earned citizenship. To earn citizenship they are paying back taxes and 
penalties, learning English, if they do not know it already, and 
meeting the other strong standards and criteria this act provides. 
Along with enhanced border security and a crackdown on illegal 
employment, this act provides better skilled people more opportunities 
to come to this country in a program I have helped to lead on, as well 
as lower skilled workers who want to fulfill the American dream.
  This legislation is about the American dream, and it culminates a 
careful and cautious and deliberate process led by Chairman Leahy in 
the Judiciary Committee, where abundant opportunity was afforded to 
offer amendments and have them pass. In fact, a number of my amendments 
adopted in the Judiciary Committee strengthen due process, fight human 
trafficking, afford opportunities for people to seek release from 
solitary confinement, and protect American workers, and standards and 
compensation for American workers, against unfair and illegal 
competition from other businesses and other workers based on 
substandard conditions and exploitation of workers here.
  Those kinds of amendments have improved on the very important work 
done by the Group of 8. I join in thanking them, the Group of 8, those 
eight Senators who labored so long and helped to provide such a great 
model for us to move forward and improve further.
  I believe this legislation can be improved. Two amendments I have 
offered would help improve it. The little DREAMers, who are too young 
to qualify right now for the expedited path to citizenship that is 
provided the DREAMers under S. 744, would be helped by an amendment I 
have drafted, with support from the great champion of the DREAM Act, 
Senator Durbin, who deserves so much credit for spearheading this 
effort over so many years. I have done this at the State level before 
coming here as a Senator, when I was attorney general, but Senator 
Durbin has championed their cause year after year, Congress after 
Congress, and so I have joined him in supporting an amendment to this 
bill that would help those littlest of DREAMers, too young now to 
qualify for that expedited citizenship, and to do so if they are in 
school or otherwise satisfy the criteria the amendment would provide.
  I also thank Senator Murkowski for cosponsoring this very bipartisan 
measure with me so that anyone left out of the DREAM Act because they 
are too young would be covered.
  A second amendment I believe would improve this bill would provide 
more whistleblower protections for H-2B visa workers. They come to this 
country to work here and they are dependent on their employers to 
remain here. So, naturally, if they are exploited, if illegal working 
conditions subject them to hazards, and if they provide the basis for 
unfair competition because they are paid less than the minimum wage, 
they are fearful of retaliation when they make complaints because their 
employer can discharge them and they are then automatically deported. 
So this whistleblower amendment would provide them with protection. 
This is essential to making possible their redress and remedy when they 
are victims of illegal violations.
  Both those amendments would improve this law. But I recognize this 
bill is a huge and historic step forward. It

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is imperfect, but I will not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the 
good. I will continue to fight for these amendments, these improvements 
in this law--enabling the little DREAMers to have those same 
opportunities as the DREAMers who have been brought to this country and 
now are here and can contribute so much to our Nation; and I will 
continue to fight for whistleblower protections for all workers who may 
be exploited if they are brought here under visa because whistleblowers 
deserve that protection. They are protecting not just themselves when 
they complain, but all workers. But I will vote for this measure even 
if there are no more amendments because I believe this measure fulfills 
the American dream of opening this country--a Nation of immigrants--to 
others who have the American dream and see this country as a beacon of 
hope and opportunity.
  Anyone who doubts it should do what I do regularly. Whenever I have 
the opportunity on a Friday in Connecticut, I go to our Federal 
courthouse and attend the naturalization ceremonies. People come there 
with tears in their eyes, accompanied by their families, neighbors, and 
loved ones to celebrate one of the biggest moments in their lives--
becoming a citizen of the United States of America. Many of them come 
after years of struggle to achieve that status--physical struggle to 
reach our shores, emotional separation from their families abroad, and 
professional hard work embodying the best about America. I thank them 
for becoming U.S. citizens. I thank them for not taking for granted 
what all too many of us do--the great privilege and right of being a 
citizen of the United States.
  Let us seize this moment as a Nation of immigrants to open our doors 
once again, open our hearts to those 11 million people who want simply 
a path to earned citizenship--a historic and rare moment in our history 
where the American people have come together in a deep and enduring 
consensus that now is the time to strengthen border security, as the 
amendment we are considering would do, to crack down on illegal hiring, 
as this bill would do, and to make possible for millions of Americans 
what my father did, what others did, which is to become citizens of the 
greatest country in the history of the world.
  We owe it to ourselves, as well as to our children, to give them that 
opportunity, and we owe our Nation the opportunity to benefit from 
their strengths and talents and energy and, yes, their dedication to 
the country that has given them this historic opportunity.
  Madam President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nebraska.
  Mr. REID. Madam President, could I ask the distinguished Senator to 
allow me to offer a unanimous consent request?
  Mrs. FISCHER. Of course.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. REID. I express my appreciation to the Senator for the courtesy.

            Unanimous Consent Agreement--Executive Calendar

  Mr. REID. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that 
notwithstanding rule XXII, at 2:15 p.m. today, the Senate proceed to 
executive session to consider Calendar No. 180, under the previous 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. REID. For the information of all Senators, at 2:15 p.m., there 
will be 30 minutes for debate followed by a vote on the confirmation of 
Penny Pritzker to be Secretary of Commerce.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nebraska.
  Mrs. FISCHER. Madam President, I rise today to express my deep 
disappointment with the current immigration reform legislation and the 
extremely limited opportunity for Senators to amend this bill. Although 
I was not a Member of the Senate in 2009, I watched the debate on 
ObamaCare closely. I was amazed the world's greatest deliberative body 
could vote on such a massive change to Federal policy without having 
time to read or adequately amend the bill.
  Failure to fully comprehend the consequences--intended or otherwise--
left many Americans skeptical, and rightfully so. We were told the need 
to act justified passage of this massive bill, and we were admonished 
that we needed to pass the bill to find out what is in it. The American 
people were not pitched sound policy, the American people were pitched 
sound bites. Public polling suggests the American people still haven't 
bought it, and with good reason.
  A few years later, Americans are starting to learn the devastating, 
real-life impact of the flawed health care policy, including the loss 
of current benefits and the sticker shock of rising premiums. The 
litany of broken promises seems endless. Yet here we are again, another 
dire problem in desperate need of a solution, and this time it is 
  I agree, and Nebraskans agree, we must address the problem of illegal 
immigration. The status quo is unacceptable. Our border remains 
dangerously insecure, and 11 million illegal immigrants currently enjoy 
de facto amnesty.
  We are told there is only one solution--rather, we are only allowed 
to vote on one solution that has been agreed upon behind closed doors 
by the majority leader and a small group of Senators. We are told we 
have no choice but to pass this bill.
  The pundits in Washington tell us the failure to pass comprehensive 
immigration reform will leave the Republican Party in an uncertain 
electoral wilderness. Well, I, for one, am more concerned about the 
future of this Nation--the future America I will leave to my children 
and my grandchildren--than I am about any political party's electoral 
  We are told that simply devoting tens of billions of dollars, with no 
plan, will solve the problem.
  We have tried throwing big money at big problems in the past. It 
didn't work then, and it won't work now.
  Some have suggested there has been plenty of time to read the revised 
bill. They argue there are only 119 pages of changes that have been 
added to the 1,200-page legislation before us. But those changes are 
spread across and throughout the entire language of this bill. There 
have been little fixes here and there. But if you blink, you might miss 
an important word that has been dropped or a clause that has been 
added, and the result is a lasting effect for generations to come.
  Some of these changes include special carve-outs similar to the 
cornhusker kickback that helped bring ObamaCare across the finish line. 
Nebraskans know exactly what I am talking about. These new carve-outs 
include special treatment for the seafood industry, special treatment 
for Hollywood, and extensions of the failed stimulus program.
  I am disappointed the majority leader has once again rushed a bill of 
this magnitude and impact. It is another artificial deadline imposed by 
the leader, so members can make it back for some backyard barbecues. 
That is disappointing.
  I don't sit on the Judiciary Committee. The only opportunity I and 82 
other Members of the Senate have to offer amendments to reform the 
flawed aspects of this bill is through floor debate. Yet we are being 
denied that opportunity by the majority leader. So far, we have only 
voted on nine amendments. Given the emotional, controversial, and 
complicated nature of this issue, reforms are not made easily. We have 
a duty to make sure we get it right and that we avoid the mistakes of 
the past.
  I have always believed that before we address any form of legislation 
that deals with legalization for our undocumented population, we must 
first fully secure the border. Without a fully secure border, the 
United States will find itself in the same dire straits down the road. 
Yet the amendment offered by Senators Schumer, Corker, and Hoeven falls 
short of this very necessary goal. We need a proposal that brings about 
verifiable, measurable results along the southern border.
  I support a carefully crafted border security plan that is strategy 
driven, cost effective, accountable, and responsive to the needs of law 
enforcement officials, and those law enforcement officials have 
expressed concerns with the legislation before us.
  The attempt of the Schumer-Corker-Hoeven amendment to reach a 
compromise on border security metrics has resulted in vague ineffective 
standards. The border security amendment I filed

[[Page S5118]]

would provide needed oversight to ensure border security goals are 
being achieved and maintained in a timely fashion.
  The border security amendment I filed requires that the Secretary of 
Homeland Security and the Commissioner of the Customs and Border Patrol 
submit a written certification that all border goals have been met. The 
Homeland Security inspector general must also sign off on 
certification. And, finally, congressional approval must be obtained.
  Importantly, the definition of operational control in my amendment 
would maintain the current law's definition, rather than watering it 
down. But my amendment hasn't received a vote.
  The Schumer-Corker-Hoeven amendment also fails to require a biometric 
entry and exit system at land, air, and sea ports. Instead, it simply 
provides a basic electronic screening system--and only at sea and air 
ports, not land ports of entry.
  This is absolutely unacceptable--and it is remarkably weaker than the 
border security provisions in the 2006 and 2007 comprehensive 
immigration bills, which required implementation of a biometric entry-
exit system.
  The border security amendment I filed implements a biometric entry-
exit system at all points and ports of entry. But my amendment hasn't 
received a vote.
  Border security is a question of national security. It is not a 
position that can be watered down or compromised. The Schumer-Corker-
Hoeven amendment does just that.
  We also need to make sure we are being fiscally responsible. Last 
time I checked, we are still $17 trillion in debt. Yet this amendment 
throws $46.3 billion at border security with no plan from the 
Department of Homeland Security detailing how that money is going to be 
used. There is no clear justification for the amount detailed in this 
request. There is absolutely no strategy driving this funding request.
  There is also not nearly enough accountability. The reporting 
requirements to Congress are toothless. I reject--and I suspect 
Nebraskans reject--the idea that massive amounts of spending alone are 
the solution to our border security problem.
  In addition to the lack of strategy behind the funding, I am 
concerned this legislation provides legalization first and border 
security second. Specifically, this legislation creates a loophole 
allowing certain people who have overstayed their nonimmigrant visas to 
obtain a green card without returning home. The Schumer-Corker-Hoeven 
amendment also creates a number of loopholes for criminal aliens to 
remain in our country.
  Under their proposal the Secretary of Homeland Security has broad 
authority to waive deportations for certain criminal activity. For 
example, it would allow many members of criminal gangs to gain entry 
and the legal right to remain in the country.
  In a written statement, Immigration and Customs Enforcement council 
president Chris Crane stated:

       The 1,200 page substitute bill before the Senate will 
     provide instant legalization and a path to citizenship to 
     gang members and other dangerous criminal aliens, and 
     handcuff ICE officers from enforcing immigration laws in the 
     future. It provides no means of effectively enforcing visa 
     overstays which account for almost half of the nation's 
     illegal immigration crisis.

  The list of problems goes on.
  In short, this legislation and the Schumer-Corker-Hoeven amendment 
remains fatally flawed. The American people demand--and they deserve--
better policy.
  I am committed to working on lasting solutions that will reform our 
immigration system once and for all. But let me be clear: I will not 
support legislation simply because it might be vogue or politically 
expedient or could ingratiate me with the inside-the-Beltway club. I 
vote for legislation if it is sound policy, if it will improve the 
lives of hard-working taxpayers, and if it reflects the values of 
Nebraskans. This legislation has a long way to go.
  Mr. McCAIN. Will the Senator yield for a question?
  Mrs. FISCHER. Yes, I will.
  Mr. McCAIN. Has the Senator ever been to the Arizona-Mexico border?
  Mrs. FISCHER. I have been, at the Texas border.
  Mr. McCAIN. May I ask when that was?
  Mrs. FISCHER. That was in the early 2000s.
  Mr. McCAIN. In the early 2000s. I would say to the Senator from 
Nebraska, she is so ill-informed from the statement I just heard. I 
don't know where to begin, except to say that if she doesn't think this 
legislation secures the border, she hasn't spent any time on the 
border--certainly not meaningful time. And I can't express my 
disappointment in the series of false statements the Senator just made.
  Mrs. FISCHER. Madam President, I would say I believe my statement is 
correct. It reflects the values of my State, it reflects the values of 
Americans, and it truly reflects their concerns with this piece of 
legislation that is before us now.
  Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, I would welcome the Senator from 
Nebraska to come to the border and see what has been done and what can 
be done with the use of technology. And to somehow believe our border 
cannot be secured by this legislation argues strenuously for a visit, 
and I invite the Senator. I would be glad to join her at any time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nebraska.
  Mrs. FISCHER. Madam President, I thank my distinguished colleague and 
friend, Senator McCain from Arizona, and I look forward to accepting 
his invitation to visit his fine State.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Colorado.
  Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to 
speak for 10 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Madam President, I rise again to talk about 
the critical importance of passing comprehensive immigration reform 
such as my good friend from Arizona Senator McCain has advocated.
  When I look at my State, Coloradans from all walks of life--business 
leaders, religious leaders, our agricultural community, and our civic 
leaders, regardless of political party--agree our immigration system is 
broken. Now we have run out of excuses to sit on our hands.
  I see this problem as an opportunity, and I want to discuss why I see 
it as an opportunity.
  It has touched every corner of our society, and this call for action 
has become too loud to ignore. But despite such widespread agreement on 
the need to move forward, there remains a vocal minority in our 
Chamber--and across the country--concerned about the consequences of 
  There is a worry, and that worry that persists is that immigrants 
will somehow steal the American opportunity, that immigrants will take 
our tax dollars and take our jobs. But let me say this. All of us here 
in the Senate agree strongly we should not be writing policy in 
Washington that would endanger American jobs, and I want to speak to 
  Ever since the economic downturn, Coloradans who have been fortunate 
enough to keep their jobs or recently find employment as we dig out of 
recession are holding on tightly to those opportunities.
  Coloradans who have been laid off or who have lived through the 
bitter desperation of extended unemployment look with increasing 
concern at anything that might stand between them and opportunity.
  In the context of these worries, some people look at employed 
immigrants and see only unemployed Americans. To see things in that 
light misunderstands this legislation as well as our roots as a country 
and our long tradition of opportunity.
  This bill--the idea of fixing our broken immigration system and 
providing millions of Americans a pathway to citizenship, which is 
earned--is not a zero-sum game. In fact, it is built off of one of the 
reasons our Nation is so exceptional: The broad spirit that any man or 
woman can pull themselves up from the most challenging circumstances 
and succeed.
  This bill is carefully crafted and balanced. It will extend the 
American dream to millions now living in the shadows. Important for 
Coloradans, this legislation creates certainty for businesses and 
residents already legally here today. This is exactly the

[[Page S5119]]

sort of certainty our labor markets need.
  It is true--maybe except for the great State of North Dakota--that we 
have made steady progress, but overall unemployment remains too high. 
We all want to be similar to North Dakota, with a very low unemployment 
rate. Our economy--the American economy--continues to grow, with 
Colorado growing at the fourth fastest rate in the Nation. In doing so, 
many of our business sectors, economic sectors, and industries are 
experiencing higher labor demand than there is available domestic 
  Taking agriculture, for example, which is important to the Presiding 
Officer's State as well, the demand for labor on farms and ranches 
across the Nation far exceeds the supply of Americans who are willing 
to fill those jobs. That labor shortage has resulted in crops left to 
rot in the fields and, therefore, unacceptable economic losses to our 
  Farmers and ranchers tell me that today they are often left to hire 
undocumented workers to fill this labor gap. This unregulated, under-
the-table hiring hurts immigrants who experience frequent exploitation, 
constant fear, and often debilitating poverty. It also hurts Americans 
who experience depressed wages and higher unemployment as a result of 
competition with this cheap underground workforce. That doesn't make 
  This immigration reform bill eliminates this unfair competition and 
ensures that all Americans receive fair wages.
  Our current labor supply challenges extend to many other sectors as 
well. Jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math are growing at 
three times the rate of other jobs in the United States. With that in 
mind, and in spite of high levels of unemployment, nearly 100,000 
valuable American-based positions in critical high-tech firms, such as 
IBM, Microsoft, and Intel, have been left unfilled. By 2018, estimates 
are that this number will increase to 230,000.
  This bill, which we are so close to getting across the finish line, 
focuses heavily on breaking down barriers in our current immigration 
and visa system to help fill this staggering labor gap and spur our 
economy in the process. The more flexible market-based system for visas 
included in this bill will ensure our immigration system only brings 
workers businesses need. Moreover, this bill will ensure that Americans 
get a first pass at jobs before foreign workers are eligible to fill 
them. That is an important element, one that Coloradans have told me 
they demand.
  But it is not only about ensuring that the bill before us doesn't 
displace current U.S. citizens, I would point out to my friends who are 
skeptical of this effort that immigrants in this country also have an 
incredible and phenomenal history of creating jobs.
  Let me share a couple numbers with everybody. Between 1990 and 2005, 
immigrants started 25 percent of the highest growth companies in this 
country, directly employing over 200,000 people. Since 2007, immigrant-
founded small businesses have provided employment for 4.7 million 
people and generated almost $800 billion in revenue.
  Big-time American companies, such as Intel, Google, eBay, and Sun 
Microsystems, were all created by immigrants--companies that helped to 
form the very roots of our thriving tech industry.
  I wish to take a minute to thank the Gang of 8 specifically for their 
efforts to include a section in the bill that creates the INVEST 
Program, which focuses on incentivizing entrepreneurs, such as the 
founders of these iconic companies, to come to the United States. This 
program, which draws on the bipartisan Startup Visa Act I introduced 
with Senator Flake--and includes the work of Senators Moran, Warner, 
and others--will ensure that the next generation of entrepreneurs and 
job creators can stay in the United States and create good American 
jobs. Last week, after listening to advocates, Senator Warner and I 
filed an amendment that we think will bolster these provisions even 
further, and we certainly hope our colleagues will think it is a good 
enough idea to include in the final legislation.
  Programs in the underlying bill, such as INVEST, will help 
supercharge our economy by helping to create thousands of jobs over the 
next decade.
  Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: ``America is another word for 
opportunity.'' We take pride in our rich history of being a country 
where the key to earning a valued place in society is through ability 
and determination, where immigrants from all over the world--alongside 
third-and fourth-generation Americans--can earn an honest living or 
start a business. It is incumbent on us, as Members of Congress, to 
actively ensure that America remains the land of opportunity.
  As the Presiding Officer knows, that starts with our children, 
including undocumented children, our DREAMers, who know of no other 
place but here as their home.
  I wish to close by talking about a DREAMer. His name is Oscar. I wish 
to make the case for Oscar and his family.
  Oscar and his brothers, Juan and Hugo, are the children of parents 
who illegally immigrated into the United States and brought their kids 
with them. They now live in my State of Colorado. Throughout their 
entire lives, they lived in fear of the black cloud of deportation that 
has hung over them.

  I had the pleasure of meeting Oscar here in Washington a couple of 
months ago. He had a very simple request for a kid who grew up in the 
United States. He wanted the opportunity for himself and his brothers 
to come out of the shadows and become someone.
  Where are Oscar and his brothers right now? They are in college 
pursuing degrees in engineering and psychology. Let's design a 
commonsense policy that will allow them to work after they graduate. 
Let's give Oscar, and the millions like him, the opportunity to come 
out of the shadows and become the next generation of American leaders, 
innovators, and job creators.
  This week we are faced with a choice: We can put into place a bill 
that was negotiated by Members of both sides of the aisle, one that 
takes historic and far-reaching steps to secure our borders and 
provides a tough but fair pathway to legal status and an exit from the 
shadows for those who are here illegally. This bill will help crack 
down on employer exploitation and help give American businesses the 
secure and stable workforce they deserve. The other option would be to 
try and delay this bill and continue on with a broken system that 
continually undermines our economy by keeping millions in the shadows. 
We could keep the system that denies the best and the brightest a 
viable path to citizenship and instead would encourage them to create 
jobs abroad for our global competitors such as China and India.
  Let's not deny Oscar and his brothers the opportunity to come out of 
the shadows and be the next generation of American workers. Let's 
continue to work on amendments, and let's pass this comprehensive 
immigration reform bill this week.
  I thank the Presiding Officer for her patience, for her forbearance.
  I yield the floor.