U.S. Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, and Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, were among the 32 senators who opposed the sweeping immigration bill on final passage on Thursday. The bill was approved 68-32.
Here are their full statements:
Coburn: “This bill is a historic missed opportunity for the United States Senate. It is a $48 billion border stimulus package that grants amnesty to politicians who want to say they are securing the border when in fact they are not. I very much wanted to support an immigration reform proposal that balances our fundamental American values of legal immigration and the rule of law. Sadly, this bill fails that test.
“Speaker Boehner and House Republicans now have all the justification they need to start over. I would encourage the House to use President Reagan’s view of immigration as a blueprint. In his farewell address Reagan described what he saw when he talked about America as the ‘shining city on the Hill.’
“Reagan said, ‘it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.’
“‘Walls with doors’ is an immigration policy that can unite our nation. But, today, Democrats sound like they want only doors; Republicans only walls. The truth is we have neither. We have chaos.
“House Republicans have a chance to be the higher chamber and get reform right. They should first remind the public that America is exceptional because it is a miracle of assimilation unrivaled in human history. The fire beneath our melting pot is not our economic or material wealth, but an immaterial idea that all people are created equal and are endowed by the Creator – not the State – with certain rights. Every legal immigrant who ‘comes hurtling through the darkness, toward home,’ as Reagan said, makes that fire brighter and our nation stronger.
“The House also has an obligation to defend the rule of law, which is what the debate about border security is really about. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, our border is only 40 to 55 percent secure. At the same time, under the Senate bill, illegal immigration will drop by only 25 percent according the Congressional Budget Office. Meanwhile, more than 40 percent of all people who are currently here illegally came through the front door and have overstayed their visas.
“The rule of law is the glue that holds our nation together and it guarantees the freedom that has drawn millions to our country. As a nation, we have an obligation to our citizens – and to legal immigrants – to uphold the rule of law and ensure the process is fair to all. Unfortunately, this bill is full of holes as far as the rule of law is considered. It is written so that the Secretary of Homeland Security can waive almost every portion of it. That’s not the rule of law. That’s the rule of rulers.
“The House can, and must, do better. But we should be precise about what the problem is. Oklahomans and people across this country aren’t mad at illegal immigrants. They’re mad at Washington. And they are right to be angry. Politicians who pass laws they have no intention of enforcing do more to undermine the rule of law than a Guatemalan father of four who crosses the border twice a year to help feed his extended family. We can’t welcome everyone, but we should be delighted people want to come to this country, and we should do everything in our power to treat aspiring Americans fairly and with dignity.
“I filed 19 amendments to improve this bill, including amendments to help secure the border and increase interior enforcement. Unfortunately, those amendments were not considered. The House now has an opportunity to give the American people the debate they want and deserve.”
Inhofe: “I am disappointed with today’s Senate passage of the Immigration bill which gives amnesty to illegal immigrants, and does so before meaningful border security is achieved.
“The law only requires that the Department of Homeland Security submit two strategies for border enforcement before ‘provisional immigrant’ status is granted to illegal aliens. The border security provisions in the bill allow too much discretion to the Department of Homeland Security. They are full of exemptions and discretionary language.
DHS has proven itself incapable of enforcing existing law. To make matters worse, once the DHS, not Congress, determines operational control of the border has been attained, this triggers an automatic process for illegal aliens to attain permanent residency, and ultimately citizenship. Furthermore, this bill fails to adequately address the federal benefits that illegal aliens receive.
“No immigration proposal is complete without provisions that reform the entitlements and other public sector resources that attract and keep these individuals in the country.”