Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 13041844 (posted Apr. 22, 2013)"
On 4/18/13 at 2:30 PM: SENATORS OUTLINE BIPARTISAN IMMIGRATION REFORM PROPOSAL
Four American flags serve as the backdrop for the Senate Gang of Eight press conference on the bipartisan immigration reform bill introduced earlier this week.
At 2:41pm immigration advocates take the stage, including AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, Nancy Zirkin from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Janet Murguia from NCLR, DREAMer leader Gaby Pacheco, among dozens others.
Minutes later, to a round of applause the bipartisan Senators of the Gang of Eight take the stage.
Sen. Schumer (D-NY) leads off the conference by thanking his seven colleagues. Senator Schumer speaks on the 24 meetings the senators had, the vibrant arguments between the Senators during those meetings and how those meetings restores his faith in America's democracy. Sen. Schumer: "we turn people away from the country that could create thousands of jobs, and allow people through our borders that take our jobs." "Our bill secures the border first, but treats the situation of those living in the shadow as an equally important priority--this is by design." "We will begin mark-up in the first week of May giving everyone 3 weeks to read the bill and propose amendments." "The leading opponents of immigration reform will have their say on the Judiciary Committee." "Senator Reid has pledged to take it up no later than June." Senator Schumer references the unprecedented coalition that has formed to support immigration reform. This bipartisan breakthrough offers a degree of hope... we met in the middle for the common good, the bill is proof, the art of political compromise is not dead." Senator Schumer starts to tear up as he speaks on the late Sen. Ted Kennedy as a hero to many on both sides of the aisle--"in many ways our work picks up where his work left off."
Senator McCain (R-AZ) takes the podium: "This is not the end of the process, but it's the end of the beginning" (quoting Churchill). "We're all united in our determination that this bill reminds a fair, comprehensive solution, that has a good chance of passing the house and being signed by the President of the United States." "Piecemeal responses cannot repair our broken immigration system." "Most people that have crossed our border or overstayed their visas have do so for the same reasons that most of us came here for - economic security and a chance to make life better for their families." "Yes, we offer a path to citizenship for people that didn't come here legally...many of them make valuable contributions to our society and will provide even more if they are brought out of the shadows." "We are a nation of conscience and can't tolerate the abuse of human rights that our current immigration system is unable to prevent." "There is no greater satisfaction in this job than working with members of both parties to serve the nation's interests. I thank my colleagues for the privilege."
Senator Durbin (D-IL) takes the podium: "The American people want us to do something." "That evening that we set aside for the DREAM Act was a pretty short meeting, because everyone said it is time...because we've all come to know the DREAMers." "To be a part of the political process they had to come out of the shadows and introduce themselves to the American public." Senator Durbin tells the story of three DREAMers on stage with him: Gaby Pacheco, Tolu Olubunmi, and Lorella Praeli. "Some day in the not too distant future it is my hope that I can attend a naturalization ceremony and watch these three people swear allegiance to the country that is their home, on that day American will be a better country."
Senator Graham (R-SC) takes the podium: "It's not much of a stretch for a guy from South Carolina to understand what it means to live here illegally and never know when you'll be rounded up. "The path to citizenship is not an easy task, half of my family would be excluded." "America is ready for immigration reform, is Congress ready? I really think we are." "This bill fixes the problem and I am going to fight for this bill. If you try to kill this bill we're going to have a problem." "This is an effort by four Republicans and four Democrats to prove that congress doesn't have to stay broken."
Senator Menendez (D-NJ) takes the podium. "One of the highest moments in my 20 years in the House and Senate." "The last thing I want is millions of people as an underclass that can be exploited and depress the wage of all workers." "My parents came to this country in search of freedom, the reality is they came to the greatest nation on the face of the earth." "We have some of the best and brightest in American, that Dick Durbin is talking about, the only flag they pledge allegiance to is the United States flag." "This is the best DREAM Act that will have ever appeared before the Senate."
Senator Rubio (R-FL) takes the podium with a joke: Actually I've changed my mind...no just kidding." (Heard from the audience: "Does anyone have any water?") "Immigration must be our strength and I believe we can make that happen again." Sen Rubio closes with a message to his supporters: "Let's secure the border, let's bring these people out of the shadows...because leaving things they way they are is the real amnesty."
Senator Bennett (R-AZ) takes the podium: "As a country we're committed to the rule of law and we're a nation of immigrants."
Senator Flake (R-AZ) takes the podium: "I was over in the House last week visiting my old colleagues and they asked who I was hanging out with, and I said Senator Schumer and Durbin, who would have thought?" "I grew up working alongside migrant labor on a farm in Arizona and I saw how hard they worked and what their motivations were, to build a better life for themselves and their family." "The border security provisions in this bill are strong."
The "Gang of Eight" pays tribute to their hardworking staff.
Schumer: "Members of both caucuses want to get this done. I believe this is ours to lose." "I believe we have great unity among ourselves to see this through--I don't think it's like gun control because what we're starting out with has broader support."
McCain: "We will succeed because of this broad base of support for this immigration."