May 24 2006

SHELBY OUTLINES REASONS FOR OPPOSITION TO THE IMMIGRATION REFORM BILL

In a speech made yesterday on the floor of the United States Senate, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) voiced his strong opposition to S. 2611, the Immigration Reform Bill. The full text of Senator Shelby’s floor statement is included below: Mr. President, while S. 2611 contains important titles addressing border security and worksite enforcement, the bill also contains titles relating to amnesty for illegal aliens and the creation of a massive new guest worker program which will undermine true immigration reform. The most problematic provisions of S. 2611 are as follows:

One, I want you to know, I opposed amnesty twenty years ago. It didn’t work then and I don’t believe it will work now, Mr. President.

Two, our first priority should be to secure our borders. Any discussion of amnesty takes away from that priority, in my judgment.

Three, supporters of these amnesty provisions say it is not amnesty, but what they call “earned legalization.” I am not here to argue about semantics or labels. Whether you call it amnesty, status adjustment or guest worker, the result is, Mr. President, that individuals that came here illegally will now be considered legal workers and on their way towards citizenship. That’s the bottom line.

Four, under this so-called “compromise” that’s working here, those who have broken the law the longest are treated the best.

Five, those who can “prove” that they have been here two to five years still do not have to leave the country, and are hence, still treated better than those waiting to enter legally.

Six, the bill has minimal requirements for proving that an illegal alien has worked or, Mr. President, will work in the future. What few provisions there are seem very vulnerable to fraud.

Seven, this bill mandates that illegal workers are paid a higher wage than many American workers in the same position with the same qualifications.

Eight, the supporters of this bill claim that back taxes will be paid for past labor, but a close reading of the bill shows these back taxes will only be paid, Mr. President, if at all, 8 years down the road when applying for a green card, not as a requirement to receive the H2-C Visa.

Nine, this bill, Mr. President, drastically increases the number of employment-based green cards issued annually. What will happen to the American worker when unemployment goes up, and so many foreign workers who are willing to work for less have been given citizenship?

Ten, today, before the implementation of any reforms, the ability of our immigration officials to process applicants who are following the law is severely taxed. Mr. President, this bill will surely have a negative impact on those foreign workers who have followed the rules and are waiting patiently in their home country, to legally come to this country.

Eleven, while others say that “comprehensive” immigration reform must include these amnesty provisions, I feel strongly that they will only serve to encourage further illegal immigration, in the years to come.

And my twelfth reason, the bottom line is that this bill, in my judgment, requires past lawbreaking and encourages future lawbreaking. I am willing to bet, Mr. President, that if this bill is enacted, we will only revisit this problem twenty years down the road or perhaps before. Only then, Mr. President, we could be talking about 20-30 million illegal immigrants.

Those are some of the reasons - and there are many others - why I will vote no on the final passage of this bill.