Transcript: Sen. John McCain on the Gang of Eight’s comprehensive immigration reform bill

Partial transcript of remarks by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act”. The press briefing was held on April 18, 2013:

I want to obviously express my deep appreciation to all of my seven colleagues. It is well known in the Senate that I’m not the easiest guy to get along with. But I must say they’ve put up with my tantrums and they’ve put up with a lot and I want to say thank you to all of you for really doing something that America deserves.

To paraphrase Churchill – this is not the end of the process but it’s the end of the beginning. There’s a long and difficult road ahead – committee hearings, mark-ups full and open, amendments will be offered to the bill – some will be intended to improve it; some will be offered in the hope of killing it.

None of us expect the bill the Senate ultimately votes on to be identical to the one that we introduced today. But we’re all united in our determination that it is at the end of the day that it remains a fair, comprehensive practical solution to a difficult problem that most Americans can support and that stands a good chance of passing the House and being signed into law by the President of the United States.

The legislation isn’t perfect. There are provisions most – if not, all – Senators can support. Some will appeal more to one side than the other. No one will like every provision in the bill. Neither should anyone oppose every provision.

The legislation we’re offering is a comprehensive and workable solution to our broken immigration system that piecemeal responses have not and cannot repair.

The status quo threatens our security, damages our economy, disregards the rule of law, and neglects our humanitarian responsibilities.

A problem of that magnitude that affects so many of our interests will never be easy to address but never more necessary to address either, and its resolution cannot be achieved by means other than political compromise and consensus and the resolve to not make the perfect be the enemy of the good, and that’s what we have tried to do.

We’ve agreed on provisions to regain control of our borders and protect the safety of communities along the border and the security of our nation.

We’ve addressed the labor needs of a growing and global competitive economy with a workable guest worker policy and sensible expansion of the H1-B visa program.

We’ve enforced the rule of law by making it more difficult for employers to hire people who’ve come here illegally.

We’ve confronted the reality of de-facto amnesty for the 11 million or more people who came here illegally by proposing a lengthy path to citizenship that doesn’t place lawful immigrants at a disadvantage and is contingent on doing everything possible to make our border secure and discourage future waves of illegal immigration.

Finally, we have recognized that most people who cross our border illegally or overstay their visas have done so for the same reasons that attracted other immigrants here – to find economic opportunity and a better life for their families and to live in a society that values human dignity.

We cannot sanction their violation of our immigration laws neither can we continue to have people desperate for a better life be exploited by unscrupulous human traffickers, abused by violent criminals, and left to die in our deserts.

Yes, we offer a path to citizenship to people who didn’t come here legally. They’re here and realistically there is nothing we can do that will induce them all to return to their countries of origin. Many of them make valuable contributions to our society and will provide even more if they’re brought out of the shadows and in compliance with our laws.

And we are a nation with a conscience that can’t tolerate the terrible violations of human rights that our current dysfunction immigration system is unable to prevent.

As I said, it’s a lengthy path that doesn’t precedes securing our borders or the enforcement of our laws or supplant the privileges of legal immigrants. We have tried to make it easier to work here legally and harder to do so illegally.

We have done our best to resolve the many different parts of this complicated problem. We expect and welcome suggested improvements to this bill by our colleagues during the debate and amendment process. We’ll oppose only those amendments that are intended to prevent a comprehensive solution from passing and thereby perpetuate our current failed immigration system.

There is no greater satisfaction in this job than in working with members from both parties in a good faith effort to serve the nation’s interests. I thank my colleagues here for the privilege.

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One Comment on “Transcript: Sen. John McCain on the Gang of Eight’s comprehensive immigration reform bill

  1. Pingback: Transcript: Press briefing Q&A on the Gang of Eight's comprehensive immigration reform bill | What The Folly?!

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