The immigration bill currently being debated on the floor of the U.S. Senate and in the national media has caused a rift among conservatives and Republicans.
The Senate bill would provide immediate legal status for the 12 to 20 million illegal aliens currently in the United States.
Yet, proponents of the bill claim that there are no amnesty provisions in the bill. Instead, they claim that because there are only temporary, probationary visas in the bill and no illegal immigrant will be granted immediate citizenship or a special path to citizenship, no amnesty exists.
The debate over the amnesty bill has allowed the members of the hard-line, law-and-order side of the conservative base of the Republican Party to tout their national security, anti-illegal-immigration bona fides.
It has also revealed the ugly side of many amnesty supporters. The vitriolic and nasty rhetoric from many Republicans should help American citizens understand who has their best interests at heart.
Below are some of the good, bad and ugly statements made in the amnesty fight.
“Naturally I hope the new immigration bill fails. It is less a bill than a big dirty ball of mischief, malfeasance and mendacity, with a touch of malice, and it’s being pushed by a White House that is at once cynical and inept.”
—Peggy Noonan, op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, May 25
“This administration has a case of ‘the slows’ on border enforcement. If we have border enforcement, we will be able at that point to start to regulate the internal problem that we’ve got….This 2,000-mile porous border, incidentally, is our biggest homeland security problem — it’s not just an immigration problem, it’s a homeland security problem. We need to build the border fence. We need to have a Border Patrol that is big enough to get the job done, and we need to be able to ask people when they want to come into America, knock on the front door, because the back door is going to be closed.”
—Rep. Duncan Hunter (R.-Calif.), South Carolina Republican Presidential Debate, May 15
“I strongly oppose today’s bill going through the Senate. It is the wrong approach. Any legislation that allows illegal immigrants to stay in the country indefinitely, as the new ‘Z visa’ does, is a form of amnesty. That is unfair to the millions of people who have applied to legally immigrate to the U.S. Today’s Senate agreement falls short of the actions needed to both solve our country’s illegal immigration problem and also strengthen our legal immigration system. Border security and a reliable employment verification system must be our first priority.”
—Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R.), statement on presidential campaign website, May 17
“The bill contains a new ‘Z visa’ that allows those who entered our country illegally to stay here permanently without ever returning home. This rewards people who broke the law with permanent legal status, and puts them ahead of millions of law-abiding immigrants waiting to come to America. I don’t care how you try to spin it, this is amnesty”
—Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), statement on Senate office website, May 17
“Amnesty for 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants isn’t a ‘narrow slice’ Mr. President, it’s the whole darn pie. What part of illegal does the President not understand? The American people want us to secure the border and crack down on the No. 1 incentive for illegal immigration, which is illegal employment. They don’t want another amnesty.”
—Chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus, Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), Austin American-Statesman, May 30
“We should scrap this ‘comprehensive’ immigration bill and the whole debate until the government can show the American people that we have secured the borders—or at least made great headway.”
—Former Sen. Fred Thompson (R.-Tenn.), op-ed on National Review Online, May 18
“Sen. McCain and his allies seem to think that they can dupe the American public into accepting a blanket amnesty if they just call it ‘comprehensive’ or ‘earned legalization’ or ‘regularization.’ Unfortunately for them, however, the American people know amnesty when they see it. The President is so desperate for a legacy and a domestic policy win that he is willing to sell out the American people and our national security. If Sen. McCain and Sen. Kennedy spent as much time working on improving border security as they did poll-testing creative euphemisms for amnesty, America would be a much safer place.”
—Rep. Tom Tancredo (R.-Colo.), statement on House office website, May 17
“I think the fence is least effective. But I’ll build the goddamned fence if they want it.”
—Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.), interview with Vanity Fair, June 2007
“The bottom line here is that if the bill doesn’t pass, another 10 million illegal aliens are going to come here in the next five years anyway. So the chaos we have now will double. The new immigration bill is unfair to those who’ve obeyed the rules. It is dangerous if not tightly controlled. And it is definitely amnesty. But if the bill does not pass, things will get even worse in America.”
—Bill O’Reilly, Fox News’s “O’Reilly Factor,” May 18
“The bipartisan immigration deal announced today is a step in the right direction toward reaching a final, comprehensive immigration bill….The agreement … is an improvement from last year’s bill. The way you make good laws is to have people from both sides of the aisle come together, and this was a highly committed group that came together to work on these issues that aren’t in the best interest of any particular political party, but rather in the best interest of the American people.”
—Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R.-Ga.), statement on Senate office website, May 17
“For weeks, senators and administration officials worked to forge a bill that secures our border, creates workable and effective interior and workplace enforcement, realistically deals with the people illegally here, and designs a truly temporary worker program that responds to the nation’s fluctuating labor needs. In these meetings, Republicans insisted on achieving certain milestones in interior and border security. . . . Republicans also insisted on an effective and enforceable electronic employment verification system that would prevent employers from hiring illegal workers and provide stiff penalties for those who violate the law. . . . What we have shown is it that a bipartisan consensus is possible. The American people will have to determine if it is what they want. But for me, failing to try is not a solution.
—Sen. Jon Kyl (R.-Ariz.), op-ed in the Arizona Republic, May 20
“We support the immigration reform compromise worked out in the Senate for a few simple reasons. It strengthens our national defense. It makes our economy more competitive and flexible. It enhances the rule of law and promotes national unity.”
—Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R.) and former Republican National Chairman Ken Mehlman, op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, May 31
“If you want to scare the American people, what you say is the bill’s an amnesty bill, that’s empty political rhetoric, trying to frighten our citizens….Those determined to find fault with this bill will always be able to look at a narrow slice of it and find something they don’t like. If you want to kill the bill, if you don’t want to do what’s right for America, you can pick one little aspect out of it.”
—President Bush, speech at the Glynco, Ga., federal law enforcement training center, May 29
“We’re gonna tell the bigots to shut up!”
—Sen. Lindsay Graham (R.-S.C.), receiving an award from the National Council of La Raza, March 2007
“F*** you! I know more about [immigration reform] than anyone else in the room.”
—Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) to Sen. John Cornyn (R.-Tex.), during a private negotiation meeting on the immigration bill, May 17
“Some people just don’t like Mexicans — or anyone else from South of the border. They think Latinos are freeloaders and welfare cheats who are too lazy to learn English. They think Latinos have too many babies, and that Latino kids will dumb down our schools. They think Latinos are dirty, diseased, indolent and more prone to criminal behavior. They think Latinos are just too different from us ever to become real Americans….Where once the xenophobes could advocate forced sterilization and eugenics coupled with virtually shutting off legal immigration from ‘undesirable’ countries, now they must be content with building walls, putting troops on the border, rounding up illegal aliens on the job and deporting them, passing local ordinances to signal their distaste for immigrants’ multi-family living arrangements, and doing whatever else they can to drive these people back where they came from.”
—Linda Chavez, nationally syndicated column, May 25
“I understand that some people think it’s not tough enough. Maybe they want people thrown in jail for 10 years or they want people executed.”
—Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, interview with Newsweek, May 18