Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.) admits he has no idea how many new immigrants will be allowed into the country as a result of the Senate immigration bill he supported.
“No, and nor does anyone else,” Lugar said, contesting a Heritage Foundation report published by HUMAN EVENTS, which estimates that the bill would allow 66 million new legal immigrants over the next 20 years.
Lugar’s admission—made in response to a question about the Heritage report—is characteristic of the combined negligence and arrogance of those who voted for the bill. They have no idea what its consequences would be. They don’t want to know. And they won’t seriously examine the sort of reasoned analysis done by the Heritage Foundation.
As the Senate prepared to vote on the bill, I asked other senators the same question she asked Lugar.
The Heritage Foundation has estimated this bill could bring in 66 million immigrants in the next 20 years. Can you tell me is this too much? Could our country handle it?
Sen. Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.): There’s no way we can acclimate and work into our culture that many folks coming from all over the world. It’s probably a reasonable estimate, and if you look at where we were in 1986 with amnesty and the multiple where we are now, that could even be an underestimate. But what it does is show people from around the world we’re not going to enforce our laws. So, it would probably create a huge invasion, in effect, because the folks can come here and they know they’ll be forgiven. They’ll be accommodated, they’ll even be rewarded. I think it’ll do a disservice to immigration, because once immigration becomes a wave that overwhelms and I think that’s what the American people are feeling now. There’s not a commitment to learn English and to be assimilated. We’re still forcing doctors, hospitals and government agencies to have translators instead of insisting people who are here learn English, at least nominally. So, that disturbs a lot of us. We don’t see a commitment to secure the borders, don’t really see a commitment to assimilate, don’t see a commitment to really be fair to American workers versus guest workers. I think the Heritage Foundation, as far as conservative groups, has been moderate in their thinking, and they have sent out the alarms on this one big time.
I’d like to ask you about the numbers for the immigration bill in terms of immigrants in the next 20 years. The Heritage Foundation is estimating 66 million. Is this too many or not enough in your opinion?
Sen. Carl Levin (D.-Mich.): Is what too many?
To bring in 66 million legal immigrants in the next 20 years? Do you think that would be a problem?
Levin: I haven’t seen the basis for that.
But we don’t know what the numbers are. Does that bother you about this bill?
Levin: I’m skeptical of numbers until I see them.
The Heritage Foundation says that the Senate bill will increase immigration by 66 million over the next 20 years. Is this too much?
Sen. Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.): I have no idea what the basis for the Heritage Foundation may be.
Do you know what number you think would be adequate?
Lugar: No, and nor does anyone else. This is purely in the rhetoric of the debate.
Do you plan on supporting this bill?
Lugar: Yes. Those opposed to it have figured out it’s 110, 120 million, there’s almost no end of potential estimates of almost whole countries that could come over.
That doesn’t bother you?
Lugar: It does bother me, if that would be the case. But I see no conceivable way that could occur under this bill.
The Heritage Foundation is estimating [the Senate immigration bill] would bring in 66 million immigrants. Is this number too high or too low or maybe right for the House of Representatives, especially with the Democrats?
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.): I respect your representation of what the Heritage Foundation did. I have no idea what the basic premise or methodology of the Heritage Foundation is in determining that number. I’ve said before and I’ll say again: What we need is comprehensive immigration reform that protects our borders, protects American workers, protects the workers coming in from exploitation, unites families and has a stiff procedure for a path to earned citizenship. That’s what we should have.
The Heritage Foundation is estimating that the Senate bill is going to increase the amount of immigrants by 66 million over the next 20 years.
Sen. John Thune (R.-S.D.): Right.
Too much or not enough?
Thune: Is that, are you talking about legal, or illegal? Or both?
It’s the legal migration with the chain migration and bringing their parents in and all the other things that will be legal under this bill—66 million in the next 20 years.
Thune: That’s what? Three and a third of a million a year, so about 3.5 million. That’s considerably more than what’s coming in today. I think it does bring up a lot of issues. The Heritage Foundation has tried to quantify what it’s going to cost by having that many new people come into the country. It seems to me, at least, that’s probably going to be a concern if it’s that high.
Do you plan on supporting this bill?
Thune: Probably not.
I’ve been taking the information that you have used from Mr. Rector at the Heritage Foundation and been asking senators if the increase of immigration by 66 million is enough or too much. The response has been, “We don’t know.” Can you explain to our readers why paying attention to this report is important?
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.): It is very important because the sponsors of the bill say they want comprehensive reform. How in the world could they offer a bill that first they don’t have any idea how many people will come in and second, whether the rate that the bill appears to allow, which is at least three times the current rate, is the right rate for
Do you think that alone should be enough to sink the bill? The fact that we don’t know how many people it will bring in?
Sessions: I do. I think that’s one of the more important issues in the bill. The argument that I heard from supporters of the legislation was: “We have reached some sort of agreement with some groups somewhere and this is a grand compromise and you can’t read it and complain about it.” This is breathtaking. I’m convinced they didn’t know how many people would be brought in by the bill. [Sen. Jeff] Bingaman’s [D.-N.M.] amendment that was accepted was huge.
That brought it down to 66 million from 100 million, right?
Sessions: Yes. The Heritage Foundation estimated that it would be 103 million and could be 193. My staff calculated that it could have reached 217 million. But I think even three times the current rate is too much. I’ll say this: Some increase in immigration will probably be approved and will probably be right in legal immigration, but three times without any thought is unacceptable.
Do you think they are turning a blind eye to reports like this because they know how devastating to the debate it could be? Or is it simply too late in the game to bring it up?
Sessions: You’ll remember they tried to pass it a month or so ago without any amendments and [Senate Minority Leader Harry] Reid [D.-Nev.] thought they could just pass the bill. They had all these flaws in it and we’d never find out. The American people care about this legislation, and I think if they knew how much had been moved forward below the radar screen and how big the impacts would have been, they would be more upset than they are.
What do you think you are going to hear at home over break on this?
Sessions: I think the American people are going to continue to be heard. They claim they had a temporary guest-worker program, but as you study the bill all those workers are able to become permanent residents and citizens in short order. Every one of them. So there’s no temporary guest-worker program. That was another misleading statement by the bill.
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