WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, weighed in on the proposed Gang of Eight immigration bill, saying ahead of a key vote today in the Senate that he opposed the controversial legislation.
Shelby made his first significant comments on the bill during a speech on the Senate floor late Wednesday in which he said the Gang of Eight proposal would fail to secure U.S. borders and could weaken the American economy.
"I believe that my fundamental responsibility as a lawmaker is to support policies that foster the conditions for job creation and economic prosperity. America must remain a welcoming nation, but we must always put Americans first," Shelby said. “In my judgment, this legislation fails that test. Accordingly, I will respectfully but firmly oppose it."
Shelby joined Alabama's junior U.S. senator, Jeff Sessions of Mobile, in opposing the 1,200-page bill. The senate is scheduled to hold a cloture vote on the legislation this morning, and could give it final approval later today.
Shelby credited Sessions for his "diligence and leadership" in fighting the bill.
"I commend his relentless effort to bring to light the many problems and questions surrounding the legislation before us," Shelby said.
Shelby said that, as a member of the House in 1986, he opposed the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, which granted amnesty to nearly three million illegal immigrants. He said that, while the provisions of that bill and the Gang of Eight legislation are different, the results are likely to be the same.
“The child of Simpson-Mazzoli will become the mother of all amnesties," Shelby said. "Compounding the mistakes made a generation ago will ensure that the problem of illegal immigration revisits generations to come on a much grander scale.”