The bipartisan group of eight senators, known as the Gang of Eight, introduced S. 744, which would create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country, toughen border security, create a guest worker program and boost high-skilled immigration.
Some Republicans have complained that the legislation would provide amnesty in 10-13 years for the nearly 11 million residents living in the U.S. illegally before strengthening border enforcement.
Those supporting the bill say it doesn’t include amnesty since immigrants who entered the country illegally would be forced to undergo a background check, pay a fine and back taxes, learn English, and wait in line for a green card. The bill also appropriates an additional $6.5 billion for border enforcement measures.
Sessions argued those things are not actually in the bill, though he has also said that because the legislation is nearly 1,000 pages, it is hard to read and understand it all.
“They promised back taxes — but the requirement isn’t there; they promised tight restrictions on welfare benefits — but state and local benefits, as well as tax credits, will be available immediately and federal welfare access is granted to millions of illegal immigrants starting in five years; they promised to protect workers — but this bill would devastate workers by tripling the number of legal immigrants over the next decade and doubling the number of guest workers,” Sessions said.
The bill makes permanent legal residence contingent on the Department of Homeland Security having 100 percent situational awareness at every segment of the southern border and a 90 percent apprehension rate of those illegally crossing. But Sessions said the bill gives the Department of Homeland Security too much say over whether the border is secure, leaving Congress powerless to stop the amnesty program if security measures aren’t met.
Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) comprise the Gang of Eight.