June 12th, 2007
12:55 PM ET
4 years ago

Sessions: Bush needs to 'back off' on immigration

Watch Sen. Sessions discuss his views on the immigration bill.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush faces a tall order when he joins Republican senators Tuesday at their weekly policy luncheon at the Capitol in an effort to revive the immigration bill, one of his legislative priorities.

Unless Bush can convince 15 more Republicans to support the measure, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, indicated he won't bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

"I think the president is wrong to push this piece of legislation so hard after we've demonstrated the flaws that are in it. He needs to back off," Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, told CNN's "American Morning" on Tuesday.

"He needs to back off. He needs to help us write a better bill and not push a bill that so many of us can't support."

Sessions disagreed with Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, who also was on the program, that this is the last chance to pass legislation addressing the nation's some 12 million illegal immigrants, about half of whom crossed into Arizona from Mexico.

"We have one good opportunity to pass immigration reform, and its within the next few weeks in the U.S. Congress. I think all of the experts agree that thereafter we get into the presidential/political season. Next year it's not going to be possible," Kyl said.

"I think the president understands that this is really our last best hope to get legislation through, that we just cannot sit by and do nothing," Kyl said.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said on "American Morning" he expects Republicans to band together to add amendments to the bill, and it could be voted on by the end of Tuesday - after senators take up the energy bill.


Filed under: Immigration
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. James, Lincoln NE

    To those who make the argument, "They broke the law and should be punished!", please think about what you're saying. With this thinking, you are implicitly stating that laws define morality, and therefore the government grants us our rights. This is dangerous thinking.

    For an example of injustice at the hands of a law, one need not look further than the Genarlow Wilson case, where he was jailed for consensual sex with someone two years his junior, simply because there is a wacky law that calls this child molestation. There is no way you can call that justice, and therefore demonstrates that laws cannot define morality.

    When you say "illegal immigrant," what do you think of? For most people, this would be a Hispanic individual, primarily a Mexican. Yet, for example, there are tens of thousands of illegal Irish immigrants (CNN did a story on it a month or two ago), and no one clamors for their deportation. Furthermore, legal American citizens of Mexican descent receive ridicule and are immediately stereotyped as illegal, and this is horrible. What kind of country are we?

    Our immigration process needs to have all the red tape removed from it. Make it easy to immigrate, first off. Second, remove government benefits for illegal immigrants (I'd argue to remove it for everyone, but that's another story). If people complain that they're "stealing our jobs," then welcome to the wonderful world of competition. Stop thumbing your nose, and make something of yourself. Society, as a whole, will be better for it.

    Look in the mirror, and see if the real reason you want to deport illegal immigrants is because of their origins. Because if not, then I need to see a protest against those illegal Irish immigrants too.

    June 12, 2007 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  2. shea, Atkins Ar

    I couldn't agree more Mary

    June 12, 2007 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  3. EDGAR ARLINGTON VA

    As an immigrant that hardly write some English words can say
    I LEFT MY OWN COUNTRY TIRED OF BEEN POOR, WAKING UP WITH NOTHING TO EAT, GOIN AT SCHOOL WITH 50 CENTAVOS (5 CENTS AMERICAN DOLLARS) NOT MORE TO BUY A BOTTLE OF WATER,
    PLEASE SUPPORT THIS IDEA OF BILL WILL PROVIDE BETTER LIFE AND MORE OPPORTUNITIES TO ILEGAL PEOPLE LIKE ME THAKS FOR READING.

    June 12, 2007 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  4. bruce Stanfield NC

    Congress should proceed under the mandate of "do no harm" vrs their idea of "just do something". This bill is a shame and a direct attack on the middle class. They don't even have the guts to tell us what it will truly cost the American taxpayers. I too will remember come the next election.

    Go Mr Sessions!!

    June 12, 2007 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  5. Laine, Hutchinson, KS

    One of you so called informed folks made the statement that we should just let all the illegals stay because they came here for a better life. What?!? Since when can we just pick and choose what laws should be obeyed in the name of a better life? Will it soon be ok to kill off your abusive husband in the name of a better life? Or not pay taxes so you can have more money for a better life? When does it stop? If the illegals were to expend half the energy at home demanding a better life that they spend here demanding rights, they could have a better life but in their own country.

    June 12, 2007 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  6. Kathe Oakland California

    Senator Sessions is right. There are too too many flaws in this so-called immigration bill. In addition, how in the world will homeland security monitor anyone for anything – they can't even get the demand for needed passports right! So why would American people think Bush would or could control illegal aliens – how many does he have down there in Crawford working for him

    June 12, 2007 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  7. Rod Brightwell Selma, Ca

    Thsi bill needs to be benched for good. They are not building the 800 miles of fence needed and if you leave it to the politians that are in office it won't get built. this bill is amnesty pure and simple. This bill is poorly written and need not be inacted.

    June 12, 2007 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  8. Doug, Houston, TX

    What I have yet to hear from presidential candidates, senators or the news media is how these new immigration bills affect those of us who are citizens who happen to be married to and have children with an illegal alien. I know that my wife has, in fact, paid taxes, has a legal social security number (valid for employment only) and has a valid work permit. We don't hide. As a matter of fact, whenever I get sent to a new post (I've been in the Army for 18 years) we send USCIS the required Change of Address notification. I find that as a person who supports immigration reform I am living with uncertainty now. I have told my wife to tell anyone she knows who may be considering coming up here not to do it because of the grief and heartache it will cause everyone. So, I would like to know what the politicians are going to do? Nothing as before or something feasable, reasonable and in the end achievable and beneficial for all involved. I'd like to think so.

    June 12, 2007 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  9. Tom W - Dedham, Mass

    I understand that this is a CNN blog, but some of you need to stop only blaming the Reublicans for this bill as one of your "liberal lions" (Kennedy) and a phony Republican (McCain) are the authors of this mess.

    We all can agree that us regular folks (BOTH Democrats and Republicans) are going to be the ONLY ones affected by this, as not one of these "leaders" voting on this have kids in public schools, use public hospitals or have to worry about an honest wage being earned.

    Do we need 800 pages to say:

    Secure the borders (1), if you can't prove you belong, bye, bye (2), go after the companies (3), make it simpler for good, hard workers who speak English to achieve the real American dream, done legally(5).

    All of us but the pathetic "leaders" want this, right?

    June 12, 2007 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  10. Dino Swanwick, Tampa Florida

    To Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona: Why is this the last chance to pass an immigration reform bill??? Because we get into the "presidential/political season"???

    What a crock! So you're saying that the President and Congress can do nothing except focus on getting elected for the 16 months? I have a better idea...why don't you WORK like the rest of us. We elected you to WORK not to spend all of your time and our money trying to get re-elected!

    And to Tony Snow: The immigration bill could be voted on "after senators take up the energy bill"??? Can the President and Congress only do one thing at a time? Ever heard of multi-tasking? The American People do it everyday.

    June 12, 2007 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. Jay, DC

    Illegal Aliens are CRIMINALS. Please don't compare them with people as Paris Hilton or people who jaywalk or who accelerate their car beyond the speed limit. There is no comparison to these criminals who come to this country not respecting the law

    June 12, 2007 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  12. Dick Danckaert Clinton Township, Michigan

    This Bill has more holes in than than Swiss Cheese. It deserves to be dumped. Ammendments will not do the job to fix the mess this Bill is in. A fresh start is necessary without many of the provisions that are included in the Bill.

    Also, there is suppose to be funding included in the Bill for additional Borded Agents. I ask, who would want to work as a Border Agent when in doing their job, dealing with a known Criminal, they end up in prison.

    June 12, 2007 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  13. marco portugal

    has a illegal imigrante in this country i have to say a few words about this comments that i see ......people call us criminals !what is a criminal? Someone that come looking for a better life ? i think a criminal is someone who is a murder a person that robbes...well i have no words for what people calls us....my mother she lived here for twelve years i been here for 7 ....i just think people should treat people with respect not has some piece of trash .....please support this bill ...there 12 million people ..people with dreams,with hearts,with kids with families.....i just want a peacefull solucion...

    June 12, 2007 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  14. Kim, Midland Michigan

    Once again politicians act and react as if they dont' have the slightest clue about how to solve problems.

    This Congress and government needs to exert financial pressure on Mexico to allow American citizens to own property in that country. If and when Americans can own property, we will start the migration in the OPPOSITE direction. We would bring a lot of money and jobs back to Mexico and other places.

    Enforce the current laws, but more importantly GET OUT OF THE BOX.

    I will vote in 2008 for the candidate who has ideas and solutions we haven't already heard or rejected.

    June 12, 2007 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  15. Marc, Hagerstown, MD

    How about we stop making new laws and start enforcing the ones we already have???

    June 12, 2007 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. Alex, Santa Fe NM

    I'm just LOLLing at the suggestion that a border fence is going to fix anything. Want to stop illegal immigration? Let's hold Mexico accountable for once, and make that government do right by its people, for once. Same with Central America.

    Until Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico et al improve their own living conditions (and in Mexico's case, get that raging drug war under control!), then we're going to have an "immmigration problem."

    I'll phrase it in soundbyte-like way so that our politicians can grasp this idea. "Help Latin America. Don't Build A Wall."

    June 12, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  17. Dan, Coral Springs, FL

    Why are politicians trying to fix something that may not be broke ? We had good laws on the books (and well enforced until '65)in place until Sen. Kennedy decided to "improve" things. We got screwed in '65 and again in '86. If only he had received the prison sentence he so deserved......
    Instead of following this mis-guided bleeding heart liberal and his companions into total economic collapse, we need to fully enforce the curent immigration laws in their strictest sense. Only then can a responsible assessment be made as to their effectiveness. Illegals, as they are found, should be immediately returned to their country of origin. Executives of companies found hiring illegals should serve mandatory prison sentences in addition to stiff monetary fines and loss of government contract participation for minimum of 5 years. Individuals found harboring illegals should also face penalties. Churches and other religious organizations involved in aiding or harboring illegals should lose their tax-free status in addition to criminal prosecution.
    In the interest of Homeland Security, the fence needs to be built and secured with armed patrols authorized to use deadly force.
    No public monies will be provided to, or spent on illegals. The entire cost of transporting the illegals back to country of origin will be back billed to the destination country. This will provide incentive to keep their citizens at home.
    If after two years of strict immigration compliance it is found the US still requires "guest" workers, the existing immigration laws can be amended to meet those needs.
    The only change that needs to be done ASAP is the birthright privilege. Only those born to LEGAL US citizens should be automatically citizens of the US.
    It's a real shame our elected politicians fail to listen to their supporters. Many letters opposing S 1348 were sent to Martinez(FL)and Nelson(FL)which seemed to fall upon deaf ears. They were challenged to take these issues to a public forum of their constituents but refused. It appears there is a priority in finding a legacy for this horribly failed presidency.
    NO Bill is better than a bad bill.
    Isn't there any integrity left ?

    June 12, 2007 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  18. Linda Elsen, Kenosha WI

    Why are elected officials not listening to the people they represent??. Why are they not looking at what is going on in the areas they represent?? Did I read right, Senators voted not to send the 2 million known felons back to Mexico?? I live in Kenosha Wi, in the last few months within our area we have had a 23 high school teacher of art and coach of volleyball team, much loved, newly married, killed by illegal alien going wrong way on interstate, no license, no insurance, drunk. Racine, had a 1st grader sexually molested in bathroom at school, Milwaukee had multiple gang robberies in dozens of stores (6 illegals arrested) the most highly decorated Kenosha Sheriffs deputy, retired Marine, 48 years old with wife and 7 year old daughter, who rescued child from fire, was shot in the head 3 times for routine traffic stop. The officer died within minutes. The illegal immigrant had five aliases, had five social security numbers, criminal history in Texas, Missouri, Colorado, Wisconsin. He told prison officials he was mad at his wife because she cheated on him and if they did not quit bugging him he would kill another cop. No remorse at all for his actions. A 12 year old boy was molested in restaurant bathroom last weekend. he and family were eating out. Yesterday in small town of Delevan a 20 year old girl who was married to someone else was murdered by her illegal alien boyfriend. he was jealous the girls husband said. The girls husband survived by jumping out of the second story window. As he left, the boyfriend was busy killing the 20 year old wife, his own 3 month old twins and his own 2 year old girl the boyfriend fathered, the wifes sister, the wifes friend, the wifes sister and then himself. Police managed to save 2 year old girl.
    Milwaukee, illegal alien beat his girl friends 2 year old daughter to death because she was crying. Lake geneva, 6 year old girl, hit and killed, by female illegal immigrant. All I can say is gee thanks Senators, we really need people in our neighborhoods.

    June 12, 2007 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  19. Legal Entered Person In US

    I hope they understand what this immigration bill would bring. In the global world, the US image has changed. There are people who have legally entered United States and are working to get their green cards which some have been waiting for 8 years as mentioned in one of the posts mentioned above. The new bill also says – Those who have been waiting to go back in the queue(after 5-6 years) and start green card processig again. Is this a political game?

    June 12, 2007 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. Mike, Irving, TX

    Let's see... 12M illegals is about 4% of US population. They mainly work low-skill, low-paying jobs, so they don't provide the proportional 4% of the Gross National Product (GDP), so let's approximate their contribution as 2% of the GDP. Let's "enforce existing laws" as proposed and eliminate this 2% of GDP. GREAT IDEA!!! What better way to force US into a fairly severe recession (for the record, last quarter GDP growth was less than 1%) while at the same time GUARANTEEING high inflation due to sudden lack of cheap labor. With high inflation there will no viable to stimulate the economy because cutting interest rates will no longer be an option. So the country will be stuck in a repeat of the 1970s for god knows how long. But hey, at least we won't have so many brown people around, right?

    US needs these people at least as much as they need US. Get it through your thick patriotic heads that even if you don't particularly like these people you still need them. If you think gas prices are high now, wait till you deport/chase out these 12M illegals and see what your groceries and housing and restaurant and day care and house cleaning and freaking landscaping prices start to look like. Let me state it again: US NEEDS CHEAP LABOR. These people are it. Which parts of the country are and have been fastest growing? Answer: the South and the West - where most of the illegals are.

    So please consider the consequences of losing 12M in population and at least 2% of the GDP before declaring your indignation at the presence of these people.

    June 12, 2007 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  21. Dave Cronkhite, Jackson, MI

    'Excuse me' to all the bleeding hearts. Charity begins at home! We already have plenty of U.S. CITIZENS living below the poverty level that have no problems doing the building trades, landscaping, meatpacking, or any other service jobs illegals take. It's a crock of B.S. that Americans won't do these jobs. Who did them before there were so many illegals? Yes illegals are human beings. But so are our own working class, low skilled, and working poor American Citizens. Should we all start breaking laws we don't like because it suits us? Or do we follow the rules? LEGAL Immigrants knock on the door and wait their turn. We have had an immigration policy that has served us pretty well over the last couple of centuries. Here's your proof "How many of us are Native American?" Just because some wish to cheat and break the law is not justification to change the law. Enforce the current laws that we have and spend legislation time on important things, Trade, War, Health Care, Campaign Finance Reform.

    June 12, 2007 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  22. Patrick, Seymour, MO

    I feel we should enforce the laws that are in effect now. Why pass more laws we are not going to enforce.
    I think each and every one of us need to be looking at the politicians that we have elected. If they do not do the job in which we elected them to do, then boot them out next election. Let them know by email and by sending letters and calling them, that this is what will happen if they do not do the job. They spend a limited amount of time in the areas they serve for and really have no idea what THEIR public wants them to do.

    Maybe they should ask the "legal" public-(their constituents) as to what they want done. We keep listening to the folks that have no say in the matter, the illegals them selves. We just seem to let the illegal-(yes I call them illegal, since they are not supposed to be here), have demonstrations and forums to voice their oppinions.

    Let me ask this, if a group of theives decided to have a demonstration or forum, to voice their oppinion, what would happen? WOW, I am not sure even the politicians could mess up the answer on that question. Illegal is illegal, whether you steal something, murder someone or just plain BREAK THE LAW. The CURRENT laws cover illegal aliens, if they are not wanted for other crimes, they get sent home!!!!!

    June 12, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  23. Ian D. Eastham MA

    >US NEEDS CHEAP LABOR

    Sure, but I don't think it needs illegal cheap labor. I'm for just enforcing the laws we have now, but I'm also in favor of expanded work visas and hight limits on immigration.

    Why can't we have it both ways? No, illegals, but enough legal immigrants to get the work done.

    June 12, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  24. Mr. Smith, Manassas, VA.

    This bill is a true waste of Congressional time. The TRUE resolution will not be achieved through amnesty but the enforcement of US Law and allowing the Government agencies that are FUNDED to keep our borders infiltration free, are allowed and encouraged to do so. If this is something that is enforced by the Democrats, then I guess I am DEFINATLY NOT a Democrat. FIX our Borders, send the illegal’s HOME and pay for their deportation cost and the strain on our State and Federal Government funds, Medical, Welfare, Tax and Social Security systems. Seize their acquired property and auction, all the SUV’s, Mercedes, Pickup Trucks, Lexus, Range Rovers and everything else that they have aquired in the Promised Land. WE dropped our borders and we allowed them to come, so why are we acting like it’s a new problem. WE created this, NOW WE need to fix it and this bill is not the answer. FIX IT, Don’t Cop OUT!

    P.S. Our Language is called English, our Italian, Scottish, Dutch, Asian, Black, German, British, Canadian, Latin, African, Mexican and every other ethnic-American version in this country ALL Speak it here and have for well over 230 years. Take the hint and get with the Program!

    June 12, 2007 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  25. Michelle, Nashville, TN

    No man is above the law and no man is below it: nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it.
    Theodore Roosevelt

    This concept has been completely lost. Illegal immigrants broke the law. Plain and simple.

    June 12, 2007 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
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