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Sessions Warns House GOP: Immigration Bill Is Bad Politics, Bad Policy

Offers a better way forward.

11:18 AM, Jan 29, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Yesterday afternoon, before President Obama's State of the Union Address, Senator Jeff Sessions' staff hand-delivered to each Republican member of the House an important memo on the so-called immigration reform bill being debated on Capital Hill. The 3-page document, written by Sessions, argues that pushing the current immigration legislation forward is bad politics, bad policy, and that there's a better way for Republicans. 

Jeff Sessions

Sessions believes House Republicans are at risk of falling into President Obama's trap. "[A]ccording to news reports, House Republican leaders are instead turning 2014 into a headlong rush towards Gang-of-Eight style 'immigration reform,'" writes Sessions. "They are reportedly drafting an immigration plan that is uncomfortably similar to a 'piecemeal' repackaging of the disastrous Senate plan—and even privately negotiating a final package with Democrat activists before consulting with their own members."

It's bad politics, Sessions writes. "In the rush to pass an immigration bill, there has been a near absence of any serious thought about the conditions facing American workers. The last 40 years has been a period of record immigration to the U.S., with the last 10 years seeing more new arrivals than any prior 10- year period in history. This trend has coincided with wage stagnation, enormous growth in welfare programs, and a shrinking workforce participation rate. A sensible, conservative approach would focus on lifting those living here today, both immigrant and native-born, out of poverty and into the middle class—before doubling or tripling the level of immigration into the U.S.

A sensible immigration policy would also listen to the opinion of the American people. Not the opinions of the paid-for consultants trotted out with their agenda-driven polls to GOP member meetings—but the actual, honest opinion of the people who sent us here. There is a reason why none of the corporate-funded ads for amnesty breathe a word about doubling immigration levels. According to Rasmussen Reports, working and middle class Americans strongly oppose large expansions of our already generous immigration system. Those earning under $30,000 prefer a reduction to an increase by an overwhelming 3-1 margin. 

And bad policy, the senator from Alabama details. "Coordinating with a small group of the nation’s most powerful special interests, last year President Obama and Senate Democrats forced through an immigration bill which can only be described as a hammer blow to the American middle class. Not only would it grant work permits to millions of illegal immigrants at a time of record joblessness, it would also double the annual flow of new immigrant workers and provide green cards to more than 30 million permanent residents over the next decade. These new workers, mostly lesser-skilled, will compete for jobs in every sector, industry, and occupation in the U.S. economy."

He adds, "House Republicans, in crafting immigration principles, should reply to the President’s immigration campaign with a simple message: our focus is to help unemployed Americans get back to work—not to grant amnesty or to answer the whims of immigration activists and CEOs. In turn, that message could be joined with a detailed and unifying policy agenda for accomplishing that moral and social objective."

As for Sessions' "Better Agenda," he lays it out very precisely:

The GOP’s 2014 agenda should not be to assist the President in passing his immigration plan. Rather, it should be a consuming focus on restoring hope and opportunity to millions of discouraged workers. The GOP’s 2014 agenda should be a national effort—announced proudly and boldly—to reduce the welfare rolls and get America back to work, including:

  •   More American energy that creates good-paying jobs right here in the U.S.

  •   A more competitive tax and regulatory code that allows U.S. businesses and workers to

    compete on a level global playing field

  •   A trade policy that increases U.S. exports and expands domestic manufacturing

  •   An immigration policy that serves the interests of the American people

  •   Converting the welfare office into a job training center

  •   Making government leaner and more accountable to U.S. taxpayers

  •   Restoring economic confidence by continuing our effort to balance the federal budget

An all-out immigration push is inimical to these goals.  

The entire memo is here and worth a read:

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