Six Republican senators on Tuesday urged the Senate to not rush to consider the comprehensive immigration legislation put forth by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators in January.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont said last week that the panel would take up the plan when the chamber returns from recess next month.
The proposal was put forth by the bipartisan group of senators, which included GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Democrat Charles Schumer of New York.
“This bill potentially could be the most dramatic and consequential alteration of our immigration system in nearly 30 years, impacting nearly every aspect of our legal and economic structure, and increasing entitlement spending to historic levels,” the Republican senators said in a letter to Leahy.
The document was signed by Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the ranking GOP member of the Judiciary Committee, as well as Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee of Utah; Jeff Sessions of Alabama, and John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas.
The senators noted that when the Immigration Reform and Control Act was first introduced in 1982, the Judiciary Committee held 100 hours of hearings, with testimony from 300 witnesses “before marking up a bill.”
Congress debated the bill for three more years — and the committee spent three additional months in review before it moved to a committee vote in August 1985. It was passed the following year.
“We respectfully request that the public be given adequate time, consistent with past practice in handling complex comprehensive immigration legislation, to read and analyze the contents of any such bill before it is listed for the committee’s consideration.”
So far, the Judiciary Committee has held only two hearings on the current plan, with another scheduled for this week.
“We believe that hearings are necessary to examine implementation of the components essential to a workable system, especially given that 43 current members of the Senate were not here during the last debate in 2007,” the senators said.
Among the issues to be debated in the new legislation include a temporary guest-worker program, border security, interior enforcement, employee verification, and other homeland security matters.
“We believe the process we have set forth is necessary not only to ensure that members are properly educated on this complex measure, but also to ensure a fair and open process so that the American people know what is in any such bill,” the senators said.
Then, in a reference to Obamacare, they added: “The last time Congress considered legislation of this magnitude that was written behind closed doors and passed with no process, it resulted in sweeping changes to our healthcare system, the negative consequences of which are only now coming to light.
“If we are serious about protecting our national interest and the best interests of American workers, we must provide all members of the Senate, and, most importantly, the public, a full and fair opportunity to become adequately informed.”
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