WASHINGTON – After a series of private meetings, a “gang of eight” in the U.S. Senate has produced the newest plan for “comprehensive immigration reform” – or amnesty, as it is known to critics – for an estimated 11 million illegal aliens in the country.
One member, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., believes the proposal will serve justice.
“We have been too content for too long for people to mow our laws, serve our food … while not affording them the benefits of citizenship. Let’s bring them forward and settle our debt to society. This is consistent with our country’s tradition of being a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants,” McCain said.
But William Gheen of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC objects not only to the eight senator’s proposal but to their process.
“These secret meetings are completely inappropriate and harmful to our system of open government,” he said. “These lawmakers have conspired behind closed doors because they know that illegal immigration and any path to citizenship for illegal immigrants is a form of amnesty and is opposed by most Americans because it will harm American workers, students, taxpayers, and voters.”
Along with McCain, the “gang of eight” is comprised of Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona. They are joined by Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Robert Menendez of New Jersey.
They want to:
- “Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;
- “Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families;
- “Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and
- “Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation’s workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.”
Schumer said he believes this is the year Congress “finally gets it done.”
“We believe we have a window of opportunity to act,” he said.
Menendez has a personal involvement in the issue. He’s under scrutiny for apparently knowingly hiring an illegal alien intern who was convicted of a violent sexual assault crime.
Schumer said he and his colleagues hope “these principles can be turned into legislation by March … with passage out of the Senate by late spring or summer.”
“Immediately … when this bill becomes law, the people who are living here in the shadows … will have the ability to stay here and work,” Schumer said.
McCain noted a similar plan in 1986 granted amnesty to millions on the promise of secure borders. But the secure borders never materialized.
“We should not repeat the mistakes of 1986,” he said.
McCain is hopeful the U.S. House will agree to the senators’ plan.
“We are encouraged that Speaker [John] Boehner has stated … that comprehensive reform is an issue that should be taken up by the House of Representatives,” he said. “I am confident that the majority in both Houses, led by the president, will be on board with their proposals.”
McCain also touched on a familiar theme in the post-election Republican Party: the need to reach out to Hispanics.
“The Republican Party is losing the support of our Hispanic citizens,” he said. “That this is preeminent issue with our Hispanic citizens.”
“The vast majority of immigrants have come here to pursue the American dream,” he said. “We must understand how important immigration is to our economy.”
Rubio said the nation doesn’t have an “immigration policy for the 21st century.”
“We need to face the reality that we have over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in our country,” he said.
Gheen, however, argued there are conflicts in the team.
“McCain is playing a lead role in the agreement announcement despite the fact he openly promised Arizona voters that he would no longer pursue citizenship for illegal aliens,” he said.
And as for Menendez, Gheen said he is “playing a lead role in pushing this legislation despite recent revelations that his campaign employed an illegal alien sex offender whom the Obama administration ordered ICE agents not to arrest until after the elections.”
“They have assembled a real motley crew of corrupt lawmakers to push this nation-destroying legislation that would radically alter the future of America’s elections and borders,” Gheen said.