Dear Senator Rubio,
As the public finally gets an opportunity to read and analyze the bipartisan gang of 8 immigration bill, it is clear that there will be some irreconcilable differences between your vision of immigration reform and that of many conservatives across the country. However, we should all agree that this is an extremely consequential bill and must go through a long process – one which will allow all points of view to be heard.
Several months ago, you promised Rush Limbaugh that you would never be part of a process “that comes up with some bill in secret and brings it to the floor and gives people a take it or leave it.” Unfortunately, the process that has commenced thus far is ostensibly a ‘take it or leave it’ approach.
This bill was crafted behind closed doors with the help of special interests, including big business, big labor, and ethnic front groups, instead of by the relevant subcommittee. It is becoming clear from the committee hearings that Democrat members of the gang have been briefing their colleagues and special interest supporters on the details of the bill for weeks. At the same time, the Republican members of the Senate, including the members and staffers on the Judiciary Committee, were not informed of the details until the bill was dropped at 2:25 AM Wednesday morning. While Democrats and their outside allies were amply prepared for the hearings this week, Republican members were flummoxed and struggling to analyze the details of the bill. Hence, groups like La Raza know more about the bill than the chairmen of the Budget and Judiciary committees. That is simply wrong.
After rushing through two hearings within a few days of publicizing this 844-page, enormously complex bill, Senator Leahy has called for a committee markup this Thursday. Due to committee rules and the Senate recess, Republicans are able to delay the markup until May 7. There is simply not enough time to prepare for amendments on one of the most complex and consequential issues of our time.
While it is true that Republicans will get to offer amendments before the bill is brought to the floor, it is impossible to fully digest and analyze such a complex issue in just two weeks. Consequently, it is unlikely Republicans will have the opportunity to provide input that will improve the impact of the bill.
There is broad consensus among conservatives, many of whom have divergent opinions on the fundamentals of immigration policy, that this should be done in piece meal bills – with those components that deal with enforcement and enjoy broad support considered first. However, if we are going to deal with this issue “comprehensively,” shouldn’t your fellow Republicans be afforded the requisite time to study the impact of this multi-faceted bill?
This is not just a bill that remakes our current economy; it remakes the orientation of our society. Between those illegals who receive legal status along with their families; those temporary workers who are brought here with their families; those future legal immigrants who are brought here without any family caps; those Dream Act recipients and agriculture workers who can bring in family members to enjoy an expedited pathway to citizenship, there are serious questions about future flow, the fiscal cost, and the ability to absorb and assimilate such a precipitous flow of new immigrants. Some in our party might come to the conclusion that the benefits outweigh the costs; others will conclude the opposing view. But we must all agree that this is one of the most impactful issues we will ever consider, and it must be subjected to comprehensive analysis. This problem wasn’t created in a few weeks; it need not be solved in a few weeks.
As such, I would humbly request that you ask Chairman Leahy to push back the May 7th markup and allow for more time to prepare for this historic opportunity. You have bent over backwards for Democrats in an effort to craft a bipartisan bill. The least they can do is grant the committee members – who have already been shut out of the process – ample time to study the bill before offering amendments.
The conservative movement stood behind you during a time of need. Please stand behind us as we’re steamrolled by this reckless process.