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Shelby Calls Immigration Bill ‘The Mother of All Amnesties”

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Thursday U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R) from Alabama took to the floor of the U.S. Senate to denounce the Gang of Eight Comprehensive Immigration reform plan.

Senator Shelby said, “The child of Simpson-Mazzoli will become the mother of all amnesties…Compounding the mistakes made a generation ago will ensure that the problem of illegal immigration revisits generations to come on a much grander scale.”

The last time that Congress passed a mass amnesty for illegal aliens with the promise that the government was going to get tough on illegal immigration was 1986. Senator Shelby was Congressman Shelby back then when illegal alien proponents successfully passed the Simpson-Mazzoli act giving millions of illegal aliens amnesty for their crimes.

Sen. Shelby said, “As a member of the House in 1986 I opposed the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, which granted amnesty to nearly three million illegal immigrants. Supporters of that law promised that it constituted a one-time fix to our nation’s broken immigration system. Instead, the promise itself was broken. At least four times as many illegal immigrants now reside in the U.S. Despite this failure, the Senate is considering legislation 27 years later that repeats the mistakes of Simpson-Mazzoli. The provisions are different, but I believe that the results will be the same. Still, supporters of this legislation promise border security in return for amnesty, just as proponents of Simpson-Mazzoli did.”

Sen. Shelby said that that Sen. Simpson (R) from Wyoming who co-authored the 1986 legislation said that the American people wouldn’t accept a legalization program without border security and tough enforcement of immigration laws. Sen. Shelby said, “Specifically, Simpson-Mazzoli called for 50 percent more border patrol personnel for two years and new penalties for employers who hired illegal immigrants.

Unfortunately, the former proved insufficient and the latter was hollow. But it was too late; nearly three million illegal immigrants had already been granted amnesty by the time most lawmakers figured out that the assurances were a sham. Despite the drastic increase in illegal immigration in the intervening years, supporters of the bill now before the Senate make similar assurances of border security in return for amnesty. They say that there will be a surge in border patrol and a fence along the Southern border. But they claim two main distinctions between their promise and the one we heard in 1986:

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“First, they say that this bill does not contain amnesty, but a “tough path to citizenship.” Second, they say that this bill will secure the border before legalization occurs.”

Shelby said, “Neither claim holds water, in my judgment. Under this legislation, once the Secretary of Homeland Security notifies Congress that the department has begun to implement a so-called Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy and a Southern Border Fencing Strategy, she can commence processing applications for registered provisional immigrant status. In addition, the Secretary must begin implementing these plans within 180 days of enactment.”

Sen. Shelby said, “The economic consequences of this massive amnesty will make struggling Americans struggle even harder. By some estimates, this legislation will produce a surge of more than 30 million immigrants in just the first decade after enactment. CBO projects that passing this legislation brings grim news about what this will mean for working Americans as well as those looking for work: The unemployment rate will accelerate over the next six years; average wages for Americans will drop over the next decade; meanwhile, average wages will rise for those granted amnesty. economic output per capita will decrease over the next decade; and the on-budget deficit will increase by more than $14 billion over the next decade. In short, this legislation is projected to increase Americans’ difficulty in finding a job, and then reduce their paycheck when they get one. In my judgment, that’s reason enough to oppose any legislation.”

Sen. Shelby warned that, “This legislation will further strain our over-committed entitlement and welfare programs. Our nation is already $17 trillion in debt. We should be working on a long term plan to put our nation back on sound fiscal footing, not adding to the burden.”

Sen. Shelby said, “By some estimates, China and India together graduate a million engineers each year from their universities. The U.S., by comparison, graduates approximately 120,000 engineers annually.  In addition, The Manhattan Institute estimates that 51 percent of engineering Ph.D.’s and 41 percent of physical sciences Ph.D.’s who are foreign-born are forced to leave the United States.” “If we want to continue to lead the world, we must attract and retain the best and brightest minds. Yet this legislation would cause a tectonic population and labor market shift in the opposite direction. Specifically, CBO projects that among the tens of millions of immigrants who will come to America under this legislation, there will be seven low-skilled workers for each high-skilled worker. Seven to one. It’s little wonder, then, that CBO projects that Americans’ wages will fall.”

Sen. Shelby continued, “Two provisions in the legislation will affect this change. First, the current cap on family-based visas will be removed. This will create an unlimited influx of low-skilled workers. Second, the cap on visas for high-skilled workers will be increased, though not nearly enough to meet demand.

Moreover, the legislation will impose onerous new restrictions on employers seeking to hire such workers.”

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Sen. Shelby said, “Mark Twain once cleverly observed, “History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” In the context of immigration reform, the promises we hear today sound a lot like those we heard in 1986. But this time, the amnesty will be exponentially bigger.”

Shelby also thanked Senator Sessions for his leadership in opposing the legislation. Sen. Shelby said, “I would like to acknowledge the diligence and leadership of my colleague from Alabama, Senator Sessions, on this issue. I commend his relentless effort to bring to light the many problems and questions surrounding the legislation before us.”

The Senate is expected to easily pass this legislation. As many as fifteen Republican Senators led by Marco Rubio (Florida), John McCain (Arizona), Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), and Jeff Flake (Arizona) have been voting with the Democratic majority in procedural votes. It is likely to pass this legislation on either Thursday or Friday.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R) from Ohio has recently said however that the Senate bill will not come up for a vote in the Republican controlled U.S. House of Representatives. What a Republican immigration reform bill will look like in the House is likely to be a major issue in coming weeks.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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