June 12th, 2007
12:55 PM ET
9 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. DMW, Roeland Park, KS

    Please just enforce the current immigration bill. If we'd done that since 1980's, the time of the last immigration amnesty, we would not have these problems now.

    What about the 800 miles of fencing Congress approved last year? I bet precious little has been done about that. Congress is a group of liars and I do not trust them as far as I can throw them.

    The current group of illegals can stay that way because they knew when they broke our laws that they would have to live underground; so be it! You reap what you sow. I don't feel bad or guilty about that as an American Citizen. Stop all the support for these illegals (social welfare and education, jobs) that I am tired of paying for and they will, through attrition go back to their home country, die, or just continue to live illegally.

    Change our immigration laws to make it a felony to cross and stay in the country with permission and do the right thing by the American people who are paying for all of this mess.

    June 12, 2007 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  2. Bill, Philly

    "Next year it’s not going to be possible,” Kyl said.

    It's amazing that we accept this from our elected representatives. I realize their salary is but a small part of the money they are raking in from book deals, speaking engagements, (lobbyists), etc.... But, shouldn't we at least cut their salary if they tell us they can't accomplish anything productive next year. Civic responsibility has been reduced to rooting for your favorite team. It's okay to miss votes on key legislation or attempt to deal with major issues because it's a rebuilding year. Politicians have somehow convinced us that it's all good as long as your party wins! I don't have a party and feel like I'm losing my country! Maybe some beer and fireworks on July 4th will make me feel better.

    June 12, 2007 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  3. Travis

    This bill has a bad foundation. Amendments won't fix that. What it really needs is more provisions and hoops. Maybe another 100 pages or so. It is time for some house cleaning in the Senate.

    June 12, 2007 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  4. n/a

    I totally agree with the above comment. First and foremost, BUILD THE FENCE NOW!!!!! The proposed immigration bill should NOT be "PUSHED" through, a bad bill is just that, BAD. Anything that "HAS" to be "PUSHED" through cries of "oily snakes". These people whom chose to ILLEGALLY CROSS OUR BORDER, have broken our laws, and we give them a pathway to citizenship???? HOGWASH. ENFORCE THE LAWS THAT ARE ON THE BOOKS NOW

    June 12, 2007 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  5. Ryan, Denver, Colorado

    As the wife of a legal immigrant, I have no sympathy for the people who come here illegally to essentially steal the American dream. I am sick of watching all of these politicians who are completely disconnected from the American people devoting time, money and consideration towards millions of criminals who came here without authorization. As a citizen I've done what I can; I've written my Senators and Representatives, I have gone to protests and I have done all that I can to express my voice of opposition as an American. We are facing a crisis and Washington is doing nothing but entertaining the thought of enabling millions of criminals and rewarding their lawlessness with opportunity, which is a gut punch to every law abiding immigrant who made a good faith effort to come here legally. It's disgusting what is going on in Washington, and when it comes time for elections I will remember the actions of my elected representatives.

    June 12, 2007 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  6. John MacDaniel, Huntsville AL

    Instead of making the presently stalled Immigration Bill an actuality, which can then be amended, this 'senator' castigates the President, and thereby causes the best bill to come along since the 1980's to die in spite of his own party leadership wanting the bill to pass. Maybe he thinks that he is doing the 'will of his constituents' but he is not doing the will of this constituent. Arrogance is belittling, and Mr. Sessions seems to be nothing but arrogant in his 'demands for what he perceives as something that he can not create, but tear down instead'.
    His brand of politics is what give 'politics' such a bad name.

    June 12, 2007 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  7. J Geary

    Sessions needs to "back-off." As a 2-bit legislator from the "Heart of Dixie," Sessions is doing nothing more than defending the status quo of a permanent underclass that supples cheap labor to business. Is it surprising that 170 years after the abolition of slavery that there are still those who are arguing the need to subjugate a class of workers to a status that exploits them?

    June 12, 2007 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  8. pchall, Amherst Ohio

    Over 800,000 Veteran claims tied up in red tape! Undersecretary Daniel L. Cooper says the number is too great to come up with an answer to fix it. And we the American people are to believe that our government can ensure 12-20 million will be worked out in a honest way?

    It seems neither party wants to go after the employers. Democrats want cheap votes, and Republicans want cheap labor. And the American middle class will pay for it.

    June 12, 2007 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  9. Faris, Ottawa, Canada

    Your comment has no sense at all:

    " The current group of illegals can stay that way because they knew when they broke our laws that they would have to live underground; so be it! You reap what you sow. I don’t feel bad or guilty about that as an American Citizen. Stop all the support for these illegals (social welfare and education, jobs) that I am tired of paying for and they will, through attrition go back to their home country, die, or just continue to live illegally. "

    They just came for better life !!
    They are human, and they are social power in our communities. You can not ask people to die in thier lives !!!

    You should wish people the best, and you should forgive

    Most of them are Latino Christians, and I don't think they will cause harm to your socity

    The laws some times can be broken, but you can't punish people for ever

    Many can not go back home for many reasons

    The bill will make them pay for their mistake in breaking the law !!

    Those are big working power, may be the will work better than you and improve your economy

    As the President said: " This bill for the sake of Ameriaca, don't kill the bill !! "

    June 12, 2007 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  10. JC, Kalamazoo, Michigan

    The Bush-Kennedy Bill was more porous than our borders. It is easy to see why there is a perception of amnesty. If it passed unamended it would be another "Mission Accomplished." The Senate should "huddle their masses" and amend the bill until they improve and pass it.

    June 12, 2007 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  11. Patrick Duncan from St. Simons Island, Georgia

    If anyone should back-off it is Senator Sessions that ought go back to Alabama check out who's building all of the houses and taking care of his neighbor's landscape. Its not tax paying workers, but taxpayers are paying for their schools and medical costs....so lets get some tax revenue in the door. These people are going to come anyway.

    June 12, 2007 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  12. Ben Magoun, Naples,Fl

    No educated American with an annual income less than $200k wants what Bush wants.

    I remember when "made in America" meant something. When American jobs were important. When America was important.

    What's important now, that some shareholder in Dubai makes a profit? that some person in India gets a telemarketing job formerly worked by an American?

    Quite frankly, I couldn't care less if China and India prosper. If average Americans have to borrow home equity to keep up with the Jones, they are not prospering. They are living a lie.

    Thanks Republican Party!

    June 12, 2007 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  13. Legal Immigrant, Anywhere, State, USA

    Legal, skilled immigrants have been given a very raw deal by the senators in favor of illegal immigrants and those with family ties in this "compromise" immigration bill. Please visit http://immigrationvoice.org to have a better understanding of our plight.

    We pay ALL the taxes that citizens pay: social security, Medicare tax, property tax….you name it. Since IRS considers us permanent residents for tax purposes we enjoy taxation without representation for 10+years.

    There are hundreds of thousands of higher skilled, highly educated professors, doctors, scientists, high tech workers who have been languishing in legal limbo for 5-8 years due to huge green card backlogs. These legal immigrants contribute to the US economy and make America competitive in this era of globalization. This "Comprehensive" immigration reform (CIR) proposes very little or nothing to clear these huge back logs. Instead, it proposes to punish the legal immigrants by REDUCING the number of available green cards for employment based immigration. In the new "merit" based system illegals would get points for ...let's say owning a house!!!

    American citizens would decide what should be done with illegal immigrants. We have no grudges against them. For us it is a question of justice and fair play. . People who broke the laws would get a Z visa in 24 hours. This Z visa is a de-facto instant green card since it would allow the beneficiary to work for any employer without any restriction or labor certification. Whereas, the legal immigrants after going through tortuous paper work for several years are unable to change employers for 8- 10 years because of the green card backlogs.

    Finally, the bill dramatically boosts Family migration while IGNORING people ALREADY living and working in this country. This is again due to vote bank politics, not to establish justice.

    I hope American public understands the unfairness of this all.

    June 12, 2007 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  14. Don Lester, Arizona City, Arizona

    Lame duck Bush should back off. Now that the amnesty bill has failed congress should now redirect its efforts to having strong border enforcement and rounding up and deporting the illegals that are already here. The people have made it clear – enforce the laws we already have. Bush's special interest, big business buddies will just have to face the fact that they can no longer undercut wages to American workers by the back door route so that some executives can get their ridiculously bloated bonuses for saving money on labor. The amnesty bill was a disaster at best. No amount of new window dressing will change that.

    June 12, 2007 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  15. June Wood,Norristown,Pa.

    Bush should leave well enough alone. I hope that the Senators will listen to the American People, they do not want AMNESTY for people breaking our laws and continue to do so, they want this Government to enforce the immigration laws already on the books, and that includes fining all Business People hiring these illegals heavily. Then they will have to go home, if there are no jobs..........June/Penna.

    June 12, 2007 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  16. TV, Plymouth MA

    Letting the immigration bill pass as is, will send a clear to World and those countries just south of our border. That message is if you can make it into the US illegally and are able to avoid being caught for six to eight years, you will eventually get citizenship in the US. I am an immigrant was came to the US LEGALLY. Those who go through the legal process and wait for their fair chance are being cheated people that are committing illegal acts. If you commit a crime you should face the consequences, not be rewarded for it. There aren't any answer for stopping future illegal crossing. Any future legislation should first focus on that part of the problem. Then we can address the issue of what to do with those who broke the law. I shudder to think where I would be if I was deined my lawful ability to come to the US and be a productive tax paying citizen. Everyone points to the families that are broken up by sending illegal aliens back. I ask them to consider all the families being denied their fair opportunity to legally contribute to this great nation.

    June 12, 2007 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  17. Conservative Republican, Pittsburgh PA

    Anyone who supports the Immigration Bill as it is currently written is an ill-informed/naive moron. The majority of these ILLEGAL aliens are uneducated/low skilled workers. That means once they gain legal status they will be a drain on our resources for generations to come. As far as the low paying work that Americans will not do, I say let the welfare leaches do it. For the ILLEGALS, send them home…NOW!!! They can apply like everyone else. Also, all you liberal Democrats and rhino Repuplican supporters of this bill can join them in O’Mexico.

    June 12, 2007 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  18. jeremy, petaluma CA

    maybe the AMERICAN business owners that continue to offer jobs to the illegal people that cross the border should start to follow the letter of the law. Business' that hire undocumented workers to save a buck are the root cause of this issue, not immigrants breaking the law. The people crossing the border are just trying to make the lives of their families better. Closing the borders goes against what our country was founded on. We need to hold business owners accountable. As usual this administration is trying to put a band aid on a wound that needs many stitches.

    June 12, 2007 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  19. susan peacock, California

    Bush does need to back off this debacle of a bill. Pay $5,000 and you too can become a US citizen! Why don't they offer the same deal to Asian immigrants, European immigrants, etc...? How ludicrous! Hillary wants cheap illegal votes. Bush wants cheap illegal labor and Feinstein in California wants BOTH!!!!
    I hope the all American citizens stand-up, call their senators and are counted this time:). Say NO to the North American Alliance – We will get Mexico's poor while Mexico has nationalized oil!! – So, it will be screw the US once again.

    June 12, 2007 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  20. Chris Kelly, Wells ME

    Perhaps congress will do Americans a favor this summer and stay in session over the summer recess to help write a new immigration bill. But why do I think they won't. Shame on you all, democrat and republican.

    June 12, 2007 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  21. Sinclair Westchester PA

    This is a disgrace, the outright contempt for the opinion of the American people. We called and wrote our representatives in DC and expressed our displeasure for this hair brained scheme (I am ashamed to call it a Bill). Yet they seem to ignore the will of the people, the same people who voted them there. This American will not forget and next election I will vote out what I voted in.

    June 12, 2007 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  22. Jayne Farber Orlando, Fl

    12 million illegal immigrants have entered this country when securing the borders after 911 should have become an urgent priority. Many have managed to bleed our healthcare and social service system,obtain fraudulent identity, and commit crimes. We have employers who have knowingly hired illegals, worked them from sun up to darkness without consequences. What happens to a Social Security program, already on the brink of demise?
    For years this fire has fueled and a comprehensive plan needs to address each of these points before the American public will buy into any bill. The current administration and congressional members have lost the confidence of the voters. Back to the drawing board guys!

    June 12, 2007 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  23. Kihenjo, Washington, DC

    I think nationality is very important aspect of persons livelihood. The immigration debate in the Congress is about people who were born in countries where they can claim nationality. Worldly nationality may not be as important as eternity. Those who feel that they don't belong here should consider a more permanent and everlasting home with no worries and rules to abide to. This consideration should stop sending fears to those who live in fear of being illegally in certain territories.

    June 12, 2007 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  24. Mary Morlan, Houston, TX


    ~ENFORCE THE CURRENT LAWS. Untie the hands of local law enforcement.

    ~TAKE THE SUGAR OFF THE COUNTERTOP. A LONGER, WIDER, MORE FORTIFIED FENCE WILL DO NOTHING. Take away entitlements and free handouts. Take away the incentive to enter our country illegally. It's no wonder they come in droves. We reward them when they get here with a bunch of free stuff for which I, an American taxpayer, am not elligible to receive.

    ~PUNISH THE BUSINESSES HIRING ILLEGALS. Impose huge fines and sanctions. A slap on the wrist doesn't deter businesses from hiring illegals.

    Congress needs to REPRESENT the overwhelming majority of people who agree with what I just wrote.

    June 12, 2007 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  25. Michael, New York

    It is odd that European nations seem to profit from the recent migration after the EU agreements opened their borders to influx of eastern Europeans. Ireland, in particular, showcases economic growth that surpassed all expectations prior to the influx of "foreign" workers.

    Despite the large demographic shift, the European countries do not seem to have overly many problems accomodating their new residents.

    In the US, however, we seem to perceive even an already accomplished migration (in form of the illegals already present in the country) as a calamity upon the nation.

    Moreover, the immigration laws turned the process into a lottery (literaly). A good friend is currently suffering separation from a Dutch woman he wishes to marry because she was refused entry – despite providing several bills for the wedding being arranged to the border agent that he had the forethought to fax to her. If the system is broken to such a degree, little wonder people looking to better their own life (who, incidentally, are always statistically more productive than general populance) will take risk in breaking the often ambiguous laws.

    Point in case – a piece of legislation passed several years back (2003 or 2004) states that people registered by certain date of that year with the Labor Department cannot be deported as long as they pay taxes off of yearly income of $32,000.

    At the same time, they were not issued work permit, or any documentation legalizing their stay. Which, correct me if I am wrong, please, means that they are required to work illegally not to be deported.

    Catch 22, anybody?

    One of the requirements for legalization in the process that is currently discussed on the Hill is ability to document successful payment of taxes for several years back.

    The government, on yearly basis, receives a huge surpluss off of taxes from people who do not have any rights to benefits they do pay for.

    Just the odd facts that seem to be completely lost in the general hysteria whenever discussing immigrants, legal or not. It seems that this discussion cannot be held without running into mob mentality mode, where completely unwarranted arguments are parrotted ad nauseum until they are held for facts.

    Incidentally, yes, I am a friend of a number of illegal immigrants, and I can only hope that half of our population has such high working and personal standards as them.

    June 12, 2007 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
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