Immigration Debate Opens in the U.S. Senate

Excerpts from the Congressional Record

February 12, 2018


Mr. MCCONNELL. Now on another matter, Mr. President, as I have repeatedly stated, now that there is an agreement on long-term government funding, the Senate will proceed to a fair debate over the DACA issue, border security, and other matters pertaining to the subject of immigration. This process begins in just a few hours. We will vote to proceed to an unrelated, neutral House-passed bill that will serve as the vehicle for any legislation that succeeds here in the Senate. As I have repeated many times, I will ensure that a fair amendment process gives Senators the opportunity to submit proposals for consideration and votes. I hope this body can seize this opportunity and deliver real progress toward securing our border, reforming aspects of our immigration policy, and achieving a resolution for individuals who were brought to our country illegally when they were young.

The American people have heard no shortage of rhetoric on this issue. They have heard many of my colleagues across the aisle insist that this issue requires swift action. Now is the time to back up this talk with the hard work of finding a workable solution. That means finding an agreement which can pass the Senate, pass the House, and which the President will sign—not just making a point.

A number of my colleagues—Senators GRASSLEY, CORNYN, TILLIS, PERDUE, LANKFORD, COTTON, and ERNST—will introduce a balanced proposal that tries to meet these requirements. I support the President’s proposal and my colleagues’ legislation to implement it.

The Secure and Succeed Act is fair and addresses both sides’ most pressing concerns, conforming to the conditions the President has put forward. It offers a compassionate resolution for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. In exchange, this solution delivers funding for President Trump’s promise to fully secure the border, reforms our approach to extended family chain migration, and reallocates our arbitrary visa lottery into a more sensible, merit-based system.

This legislation is a fair compromise that addresses the stated priorities of all sides. It is our best chance of producing a solution that can actually resolve these matters, which requires that a bill pass the Senate, pass the House, and earn the President’s signature. It has my support.

The time for political posturing is behind us. Now we have an opportunity to resolve these issues. I hope we make the most of it.

Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, now on to the business of the day. On the heels of passing a significant, bipartisan budget deal, the Senate returns this week to grapple with one of the most contentious of issues—immigration.

Leader MCCONNELL, to his credit, has promised a debate on a neutral bill with an amendment process that will be fair to both sides. Democrats and Republicans are working hard to find a bill to protect the Dreamers and provide border security that will garner 60 votes—no easy task. It is like threading a needle. I am sure we will have the opportunity to vote on a few ways to do it, but the key is to find a consensus bill that is largely acceptable to a significant number of Members in both parties. The purpose here is not to make a point, as the Republican leader just said. That is easy. The purpose is to get something done. That is hard, but it really is so important. It will not be easy, but it is, certainly, achievable.

Democrats are fully committed to protecting Dreamers, and we have long supported effective border security. Many Republicans are in the same boat. The only enemy here is overreach. Now is not the time or the place to reform the entire legal immigration system. Rather, this is the moment for a narrow bill, and every ounce of our energy is going into finding one that can pass.

Just like on the budget, this is an opportunity for the Senate to lead the Nation. Let the same spirit of bipartisanship and compromise that generated the budget deal carry forward this week as we debate the fate of the Dreamers.

Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, this week in Washington we are going to do something that hasn’t been seen for a long time—for over a year. If you are not careful, you may tune in and see an actual debate on the floor of the Senate—real Senators, Democrats and Republicans, coming to the floor actually debating an issue.

I am not sure what is going to happen because it has been so long since we tried this, but it really is exciting to think about; that men and women elected to this body, known as the greatest deliberative body in America, are finally going to deliberate. It is true, and it is by design, not by accident. After a lot of negotiation back and forth, Senator MCCONNELL, the Republican leader, agreed that this week we would debate immigration and DACA, the Dream Act; that it would come to the floor of the U.S. Senate.

I am excited about it, although I have no idea how this debate will end— in most good debates we don’t know because it depends on the strength of an argument as to whether a measure is going to pass or not pass, but it is certainly an issue I have been waiting for.

In fact, I have been waiting 5 years for it. It is a long time even by Senate standards. It has been 5 years since we actually debated immigration on the floor of the U.S. Senate. It is not because the immigration laws of America are so perfect—far from that. It is because it is a tough issue, it is a delicate issue, and it is a volatile issue, and it always has been in America. I have this notion that as soon as the Mayflower landed and the passengers got off the boat, they looked over their shoulder and said: I hope no more people are coming. We are perfectly happy with this country the way we see it—because throughout history and up to today, there has always been a resistance by those already here to new people from new places with different languages, cultures, religions, and food.

We have done some things in the past which are not exactly things to brag about. It was 1924 when we passed an immigration bill. There was a fear after World War I, because Europe was in shambles, that all these people would come flooding into America. So the Congress here and in this Chamber and the House of Representatives passed the Immigration Act of 1924. It was horrible. It was horrible. It expressly excluded groups we didn’t want to be a part of America’s future— groups like people of the Jewish religion, Italians, people from Eastern Europe, the Japanese, and many others. That immigration act said: We don’t want any more of those people, and for 41 years that was the law of the land. There were slight modifications, but that was the basic standard for immigration in America.

Not until 1965 did we look at immigration again with a different view to a broader acceptance of the world as part of are our future. Since then, we have continued to have problems with immigration and questions about change of policy.

I will just flat out state, from 10 or 15 different perspectives, the current immigration system in America is broken—broken. When we have 11 million undocumented people in the country today, it is a broken system. Eight of us got together 4 years ago—four Republican Senators and four Democratic Senators—and spent months debating a new immigration system for America. I might say immodestly, I think we did a pretty good job of it. We presented it to the Judiciary Committee, and it faced over 100 amendments, people who wanted to change it. At the end of the day, we had a bill we brought to the Senate floor, and it passed with a substantial, overwhelming bipartisan vote—comprehensive immigration reform. We tackled every aspect of it, from ag laborers to H–1Bs, to the Dream Act, to undocumented, right on through. We passed it in the Senate, but, of course, with our bicameral system of government, we needed the House to tackle the same problem, and they refused. They wouldn’t even consider the bill we passed. They wouldn’t come up with an alternative. They wouldn’t try to amend it. They just said: We are not going to talk about it, and they didn’t.

For 5 years, we have done nothing, and this year we have a chance to do something. The fact is, we need to do something. On September 5 of last year, President Trump announced he was eliminating what was known as the DACA Program. The DACA Program was created by Executive order under President Obama to give those who were characterized as Dreamers a chance to be legal in America on a 2- year renewable basis. So 780,000 people signed up for President Obama’s DACA Program all across the United States. These were young people brought to the United States by their parents at a very early age, and they were going to be given a chance to stay here 2 years at a time and not be deported and be able to legally work.

Who are these young people? Well, 91 percent of them are currently in school or working. We know, as well, 20,000 of them have graduated from college and are teaching in our grade schools and high schools. We know 900 of them, even though they are undocumented, volunteered to serve in the U.S. military and are currently in uniform willing to risk their lives for this country that hasn’t accepted them as citizens. The list goes on. They are premed students, they are in first responder status, they are doing some pretty extraordinary things, but President Trump announced last September 5 that the program that allowed them to stay in the United States was coming to an end.

When? In 3 weeks, March 5 of this year. What happens if Congress fails to do anything before March 5? If we fail to do anything to resolve this crisis created by President Trump, we will see 1,000 of these young people every single day falling out of protected status, and they will be in a position where they can be deported from this country. For many of them who were brought here as infants and toddlers, they would be sent back to some country they don’t even remember to face a language they don’t speak. That would be a terrible outcome.

That is why we need to take up this debate and pass, on a bipartisan basis, a measure to correct the situation, the challenge created by President Trump’s actions. We need to do it now because if the House of Representatives is to take action before March 5, we have little time left. Both the House and the Senate will be gone for 1 week in the month of February, so there is very little time left before the March 5 deadline, and I hope we can tackle it and get it done.

The question that needs to be asked is, what will be debated this week? I think a lot of things may be debated. It is an actual open debate on the floor to some extent. It could conceivably not only be on DACA and the Dream Act, it might even get into other immigration issues.

There was a recent poll that was taken by Quinnipiac on some of the issues that may come before us this week in the U.S. Senate. The American people have been listening to this conversation, and it comes to some pretty interesting conclusions.

This is a new Quinnipiac poll that was just released today. By a margin of 81 percent to 14 percent, Americans want Dreamers to gain citizenship. Support is overwhelmingly pro-Dreamer when respondents were asked if they support ‘‘allowing undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to remain in the country and eventually apply for citizenship.’’

Support for the Dreamers is overwhelmingly across party lines—94 percent of Democrats support it, 82 percent of those who are Independents, and 68 percent of Republicans support citizenship for these Dreamers. I have read other polls that say even 61 percent of Donald Trump voters support it. Republican voters support citizenship 68 to 24; White men, 75 to 20; and voters over 65, 80 to 14. It is hard to find any issue in our politically divided country that brings so many people together, but this one does overwhelmingly, both political parties and Independents.

The other side of it is that the President is proposing a border wall. Well, we remember that during the campaign, for sure—a big, beautiful wall from sea to shining sea, and the Mexicans are going to pay for it. How many times did we hear that speech? Many times.

Well, where are the American people on this border wall? Interesting what the Quinnipiac poll tells us. By approximately a 2-to-1 margin, the American public opposes a border wall, and when you attach the pricetag to it— how much it will, $25 billion—the numbers change. When first asked if they support or oppose a border wall with Mexico, the public opposes it 59 to 37 percent. A followup question, which includes a reference to the $25 billion pricetag President Trump has requested to build the wall, generates even more opposition: 65 to 33—2 to 1 opposed to the border wall.

Then some on the other side say: We should slash legal immigration into the United States. Let’s put some numbers behind this question. We are a nation of approximately 350 million people. Each year 1.1 million legal immigrants come into the United States. About 70 percent of them are Members of families of those already here. Some of them have waited for their chance to join up with their families 20 years. So 75 percent of the legal immigration is family reunification. As I mentioned, some have waited for a long time.

Many on the other side want to limit legal immigration into the United States, want to limit this family reunification effort and those who come in with promises of jobs. So the question was asked in the poll as to whether we should cut legal immigration levels.

In the Quinnipiac poll, 78 percent of Americans are opposed to cutting legal immigration. A majority of Americans—54 percent—support keeping legal immigration at the same or current level. More Americans, 24 percent, support increasing it rather than decreasing it, 17 percent. Even 71 percent of Republican voters want legal immigration levels to stay either the same, 53 percent, or increase, 18 percent.

Additional poll questions found support for maintaining the current policy regarding family reunification at 49 to 43, and the diversity visa lottery, 48 to 49. Then we asked hot-button issues on immigration. Throughout our history these are the issues usually raised about immigrants. Immigrants, they say, take American jobs. Immigrants, they say, commit too many crimes. If you listened to the President’s State of the Union Address a week or two ago, he talked about MS–13, a reprehensible gang engaged in criminal activities overseas and in the United States. I don’t know of anyone in either political party who endorses that. The President used some graphic examples of their horrible, violent conduct, but when the public was asked about those two positions—Are these immigrants taking away American jobs? Are they committing more crime?—there was an interesting result. The American public overwhelmingly rejects the idea that undocumented immigrants take jobs from Americans and are prone to commit more crime.

Despite the transparent, relentless scapegoating efforts of some, Americans do not believe that undocumented immigrants take jobs away from Americans; by 63 to 33 percent, that was rejected. That is because our eyes can see. Come to Central Illinois, near my hometown of Springfield. Go to the local meat processing plant or the chicken processing plant, and watch who comes out of that plant at quitting time. Hispanics and Africans are taking what are pretty tough, dirty, rough jobs because others don’t want them. Take a look next time you go into a nice restaurant in Chicago, which is certainly my honor to rep- resent, and look who just cleaned the dishes off the table, and when the door swings, take a look at who is in the kitchen doing the dishes. By and large, it is going to be immigrants who are doing those things. Not many of us say to our sons and daughters: I am hoping the day will come when you decide to go and pick fruit for a living. You hardly ever hear that because we know it is hard, backbreaking work, and immigrants do the work. So many jobs they fill are jobs that Americans aren’t jumping to fill.

How about the issue of crime? The majority of Americans do not believe that undocumented immigrants commit more crimes than American citizens; 72 to 17 percent rejected this idea, and that just reflects the reality. The incidence of crimes committed by those who are immigrants is lower than that of those who are native born. It is a fact. It is a fact that some like to ignore.

When it comes down to the fundamentals of the debate that faces us in the Senate, the American people, by overwhelming majority numbers, have picked their side on this. The question is whether Democrats and Republicans here can find a middle ground to agree on. It remains to be seen.

I have been engaged in this debate now for 17 years. That is a long time even by Senate standards. It was 17 years ago when I introduced the DREAM Act. It was 17 years ago when I said: If you were brought here as a kid, a baby, an infant, a toddler, even a young teenager and you had no voice on where your family was headed, it shouldn’t be used against you. If you have had a good life, gone to school, are not a criminal, and offer some promise for a job or future in America, you deserve a chance to earn your way to legal status and to citizenship.

I come to this with some prejudice. My mother came as an immigrant to this country. She was brought here at the age of 2. She was the first Dreamer in my family, and she was brought here from Lithuania, where she was born. Her mother brought her to this country and didn’t speak English, but she brought her three kids here in the hope that they could find opportunities that they couldn’t find back in Lithuania. For them, the land of opportunity was the city of East St. Louis, IL, which is where I was born and I grew up. It offered immigrants a lot of tough jobs but opportunities to maybe create a better life for their kids. When it came to this kid, my mom and her family gave me a chance to serve in the U.S. Senate. That is my story, that is my family’s story, but that is America’s story. Time and again, that is America’s story. My grandfather didn’t come here with any extraordinary skills. He came here with a strong back and a determination to work and feed his family, and he did it; my grandmother, the same. That is the story of this country.

We are going to debate this week in the U.S. Senate whether it will continue to be the story of this country. Some will argue that we have had enough of these immigrants; we don’t need any more of them. Others, I hope, will realize that we have an opportunity here—an opportunity not only to allow people to come to this country and be part of this country’s future but to create the kind of diversity that makes us unique in the world, the diversity of immigration. I think we can come up with a reasonable answer to this. There will be differences of opinion, strongly held beliefs on one side or the other.

The question is whether this body, the U.S. Senate, with 49 Democrats and 51 Republicans—just about as close as you can get—can reach a common, bipartisan agreement. Wouldn’t it be a headline across America if this Senate actually had a debate and this Senate actually agreed on something—a bipartisan agreement. I see some heads nodding, and I won’t say where, but it is somewhere in this Chamber—people who are following this debate. I think we can do it. I really believe we can. It will be a real test for us, but that is what we are sent to do, isn’t it? It is not to debate, issue press releases, and wave our fists at one another, but to actually tackle a problem.

The President has created a challenge—a challenge that involves hundreds of thousands of lives. Now it is our turn to meet that challenge as a Senate and to show we are up to the job.

I yield the floor.

...Madam President, on another matter, today we will begin to deliver on an important promise to the American people—debating an immigration solution for the young adults brought to the United States by their parents who now find themselves in limbo.

Several weeks ago, our Democratic colleagues recklessly shut down the Federal Government to placate the extreme elements in their own party. The majority leader disagreed with this approach. He and the rest of my Republican colleagues urged them to abandon this shutdown ploy before it was too late, but they refused to listen, ignoring the majority of the Americans who were against this approach. The majority leader then promised what had been the plan all along—that would be to continue bipartisan discussions that would be followed by open debate on the floor.

Shortly, this evening, we will take up a vote on a vehicle through which Members can offer their ideas on how best to solve this problem. It will be a process that is fair to both sides. Once we vote to adopt a motion to proceed, my colleagues and I will have the opportunity to have our proposals considered under regular order. In other words, they can offer amendments, debate on the amendments, and vote on the amendments. Amendments, as usual, will have a 60-vote threshold before they can be adopted. Sixty votes is what we need.

What I am interested in is solving the problem, and that means not only a proposal that can get 60 votes but one that can pass the House and be signed into law by President Trump. That is simply critical. This should not be an exercise in futility or for political grandstanding purposes; this should be about getting a bill signed into law, which means it has to pass both Houses and has to be signed by the President.

Today, led by Chairman GRASSLEY of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a group of Members from this side of the aisle will put forth a comprehensive proposal—including the Presiding Officer—that centers around the four pillars the President has said he would like to see addressed.

I think most people have been surprised—maybe ‘‘shocked’’ is a better word—at the generosity of the President’s offer for the DACA-eligible recipients. Right now, there are 690,000 who have signed up, but the President’s proposal would not only offer them legal status, it would offer 1.8 million eligible young people a pathway to citizenship—far more than President Obama ever offered.

It provides a real opportunity for us to keep our commitments when it comes to border security—utilizing more boots on the ground, better technology, and additional infrastructure. It reallocates visas from the diversity lottery system in a way that is fair. It continues the existing family-based immigration categories until the current backlog is cleared and then changes to more of a merit-based system.

I am proud to cosponsor this commonsense solution, which I think can pass the Senate and the House and be signed into law by President Trump. I know, too, that others have been working hard on their ideas, and I look forward to reviewing their work product.

I urge my Democratic colleagues this week to remember their predecessors when it comes to immigration, which includes my fellow Texan Barbara Jordan. One of the great civil rights leaders of our time, she was the first southern Black woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She also served as a chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform. While serving in that role, she once said:

For our immigration policy to make sense, it is necessary to make distinctions between those who obey the law, and those who violate it.

I think that is a great principle to keep in mind as we begin to sort out this week’s challenges.

Although we all recognize the anxiety of DACA recipients who came to this country through no fault of their own and now face uncertain futures, at the same time, we must recognize that many Americans face certain plights too. They are dreamers, too, as the President has said. And we need to restore our legacy as a nation that believes in and applies the rule of law— indeed, equal justice under the law.

Here is the bottom line: I am not interested in a futile exercise of gamesmanship or political theater or ideas that can’t become law. As the President said 2 weeks ago, the ultimate proposal must be ‘‘one where nobody gets everything they want, but our country gets the critical reforms it needs.’’ More than 124,000 young people in my State hope we can rise to the occasion. Indeed, all 28 million of them hope we can work together in a bipartisan fashion not only to provide relief to the DACA recipients but also to restore our border security and to craft immigration laws that serve America’s best interests.

Again, one of the two pillars upon which our immigration system has been built is that we are a nation of immigrants. All of us at some point in our family came from somewhere else—almost all of us. But we are also a nation of laws, which distinguishes us from most of the rest of the world. It is those two great pillars—a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws— that need to be restored and need to be our focus.

Madam President, I yield the floor.

Mr. GRASSLEY. Madam President, before the Senator from Texas leaves the floor, I think he needs to be complimented because one of the four things in the bill which I am talking about our introducing and which he is going to be one of the cosponsors of is border security. He has worked for years on border security. He needs to be complimented on it. He is chairman of the Immigration Subcommittee of our Judiciary Committee. And I think Senator JOHNSON of Homeland Security has some aspects of border security as well. I think he and Senator JOHNSON ought to be complimented for being in the lead of 100 Senators to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes we made in 1986 when we gave amnesty because we thought we had border security. Quite obviously, the numbers show we didn’t do a very good job on border security in 1986. The Senator from Texas and the Senator from Wisconsin are going to make sure we don’t make that same mistake again, so I thank them very much.

Madam President, I rise today to announce the formal introduction of an amendment to H.R. 2579. H.R. 2579 is the vehicle for immigration. This amendment is cosponsored by Senators Cornyn, Tillis, Lankford, Perdue, Cotton, and Ernst. It is a product of several months of hard work between these Senators and including the White House.

Since this past September, I have held more than two dozen meetings with interested Senators in an attempt to craft a fair and permanent solution to DACA. I have also met with the President on four separate occasions to figure out exactly what he needs to see in a legislative package so that it can be signed into law, because what is the point of our working hard if we are not going to get something that is going to be finalized by a signature from the President of the United States?

I just said I have met with the President on four separate occasions. I should have said that this group of introducers of this legislation met with the President on those four occasions. But most importantly, I have been continuously listening to what my colleagues have said they need in any immigration consensus. As a result of our meetings and conversations with our colleagues, the Senators sponsoring this amendment have attempted to develop a simple, commonsense framework that can address everyone’s concerns while also providing necessary and critical changes to our Nation’s immigration laws.

What does our amendment do? Working off the broad bipartisan, bicameral framework agreed to on January 9 at the White House, our amendment has four key pillars. I said bipartisan, bicameral. Members of Congress met with the President for an hour and a half to boil down all the issues that can be brought up, and we ended up with these four key pillars.

First and most importantly, our amendment fully funds the President’s border security request. Other plans that we have heard about claim that they fund the President’s border security request by—I want to put this word in quotes—‘‘authorizing’’ money. But anyone who knows Washington knows that just an authorization turns out to be a gimmick sometimes. It turns out to be a promise sometimes or an IOU to maybe fund something at some later date. Every Member of the Senate knows that in this town, Washington, DC, promises are quite cheap.

We went down the road in 2006 when Congress authorized money for border fencing, much of which Congress never actually funded. Our amendment rejects that approach. Instead, we actually appropriate $25 billion into a border security trust fund. This trust fund will allow Homeland Security to use between $2.5 billion and $3 billion a year for infrastructure, technology, and personnel recruitment and retention.

By setting up a border security trust fund, we ensure that the Department of Homeland Security will actually have the money that it needs every single year to secure our borders, while also retaining Congress’s ability to exercise oversight.

Unlike other plans, we also recognize that real border security is more than just throwing money at the border. This group of Senators realized that real border security means that we have to close the legal loopholes in the current law that allow dangerous criminals to enter and remain at large within our country. Our amendment ends these dangerous loopholes and makes it easier for our law enforcement to apprehend, detain, and speedily remove sex offenders, drug smug- glers, human traffickers, international terrorists, criminal gang members, repeat border crossers, drunk drivers, and other dangerous people.

Second, our amendment provides a generous and permanent solution for DACA and DACA-eligible recipients. Our plan contains an earned path to citizenship for these young people. Provided these young men and women have no criminal record and either serve in the military, attain a college or vocational degree, or maintain full-time employment, they can eventually gain citizenship. This represents a major concession for many Republicans, including this Senator, but this concession is necessary to provide a permanent and fair solution to this issue.

The third pillar of our proposal reforms family-based immigration to place greater emphasis on the nuclear family. Moving forward, we limit family-based immigration to the nuclear family, meaning the spouses and minor children of citizens and lawful, permanent residents.

This change doesn’t end family-based immigration. It simply recognizes that extended-family immigration doesn’t serve the American people or our country’s economic interest. It is important for all of my colleagues to recognize that these family-based changes are prospective. This means that all 4 million immigrants who are waiting in line for a family-based petition will continue to have their petitions processed under the old rules.

This group of Senators understands that we can’t penalize the millions of people who actually followed the law and, by following the law, did the right thing.

In addition to rewarding those who did the right thing by grandfathering all pending petitions in the pipeline, it will take years—by some estimates, more than a decade—for Congress to debate and enact merit-based immigration reform.

Finally, our plan reallocates the 55,000 visas and the diversity visa lottery to clearing backlogs in the family- based and employment-based backlogs. By reallocating these visas, we not only promote faster family reunification but also speed up the immigration of skilled workers in the EB–1, EB–2, and EB–3 categories.

As you can see, this is an eminently fair plan that closely mirrors the President’s framework. This plan is a true compromise, and supporting it will require concessions from all Senators—conservatives, liberals, Democrats, Republicans, and everyone in between.

This Senator is ready and willing to make a major concession and, once again, vote for a path to citizenship. Other Senators need to be willing to do the same, to make sacrifices when it comes to border security and to chain migration.

But at the end of the day, in spite of everything else, the simple fact remains that this amendment is the only plan that the President supports. This plan is the only Senate plan that has any possibility of passing the House of Representatives and becoming law.

So I have asked my colleagues who oppose this proposal: Are you interested in actually getting something done, in actually providing a path to citizenship for these DACA kids, or are you interested in a political issue for the 2018 elections? If you are actually interested in getting something done, in getting a bill signed into law, and fixing the DACA issue, the choice is obvious: You will vote to support this plan.

But if my colleagues are more interested in grandstanding, in passing a bill that will never become law and that will not actually protect DACA kids, well, that choice is pretty clear as well.

To all my colleagues, I urge your support for this amendment. Let’s fix this issue. Let’s demonstrate that we can find solutions to the challenging problems that Americans are calling on us to solve.

This is a compassionate compromise. As for the people who have been advo- cating for this for years—longer than I have been, because I have been at it just a short period of time—let them accept a compassionate compromise. Let them do what they have called on to be done for a long period of time— settling the DACA issue once and for all. Then, let’s show the world that we are serious about finding a long-term solution, instead of kicking the problem to a future date.

I yield the floor.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arkansas.

Mr. COTTON. Madam President, I wish to thank my colleague Chairman GRASSLEY for the excellent work on this issue, on which he has helped to lead us all. We have a working group. The Presiding Officer herself belongs to a small working group. We have introduced legislation this week that trans- forms the President’s four-pillar framework into an actual bill, and it is the one bill that can become a law.

We have a plan not to pass a bill but to pass a law, because twice in the last 12 years, the Senate has passed a bill that hasn’t become a law because the House of Representatives couldn’t pass it and, therefore, ultimately, the President couldn’t sign it.

I urge my colleagues: Let’s not simply signal our virtue to our counterparts in the House or to the President by passing a bill. Let’s solve this problem by passing a law.

This bill is the one bill that can become a law because it is the one bill that translates the President’s framework into actual legislation. It provides legal status and ultimately citizenship for people who were brought here through no fault of their own as minors, before the age of accountability. It provides more money and legal authorities to secure our southern border and to help our brave immigration agents. It eliminates the useless diversity visa lottery and reallocates those green cards for more productive and worthwhile purposes, and it puts an end to the practice of extended-family chain migration, allowing immigrants to bring not just his or her spouse and minor children but parents, siblings, and, ultimately, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and on down their extended family tree.

That doesn’t solve every problem under the sun we have with immigration. It doesn’t, for instance, include mandatory nationwide E-Verify, which I would support. It doesn’t resolve the many problems we have with numerous temporary guest worker visas. But it is consistent with the President’s framework, and it solves the problem in front of us of young people who were brought here through no fault of their own, but also it has the side effect of giving those people legal status.

I know there are a lot of half measures floating around the Senate right now, saying that we should give legal status to these 1.8 million people in return for a small pittance at the southern border, but that simply will not do. It is not responsible because if we give those people legal status, we will have two negative side effects. First, we will create more incentives—perverse incentives—to encourage illegal immigration with minor children to this country. That is dangerous. It is immoral, not to mention unwise from our national interests.

Second, if we give legal status to these 1.8 million people, we will create a whole new pool of legal permanent residents and, ultimately, citizens who can naturalize their extended family, including their parents—the very people who created the problem to begin with—undermining the rationale for the program to begin with. Remember, that rationale was that children ought not pay for the sins of their parents.

But, surely, parents can pay for their own sins.

If we do those things—provide legal status for the 1.8 million people who find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own, but control those negative side effects by securing our border, and ending the practice of extended-family chain migration—we will have a bill that can become a law.

At the same time, we will also grandfather in every person who is currently in the backlog waiting to come to this country, who has applied to get a green card because they have a parent or child or sibling in this country. Some of them have been waiting up to 20 years. So no one will be cut out of that waiting line.

Furthermore, we will continue to allow American citizens to get a renewable, nonworker visa for their elderly parents who live overseas. So if you immigrated to this country and still have parents back in the home country who need your care, who need to live at home with you or maybe live down the street in a nursing home, this law will allow you to have a visa to bring them here.

That is a generous, humane solution, but it also is one that handles the problem responsibly and starts to build the kind of immigration system that this country needs—a system that focuses on the skills that our economy needs, not one that is just based on family ties or country of origin.

For that reason, it is immensely popular. A recent poll showed that 65 percent of Americans support this proposal. Two out of every three Americans support it, and they should, since, after all, every part of this proposal is popular.

Most of us have seen polls that suggest that fewer than 20 percent of Americans want to see these people return to their country, which in many cases they don’t remember. At the same time, 72 percent want to end the practice of extended-family chain migration, and securing our southern border is equally as popular.

Oftentimes in Congress, we have to make a tough choice between something that is popular and necessary and something that is unpopular, but in this legislation, we are simply asking our colleagues to do the right thing—to take the responsible step—which happens to be popular with the American people as well. It should be popular because it is both generous and humane on the one hand but responsible on the other hand. It is the only approach that will begin to change our immigration system from one that treats people based on where they come from and to whom they are related to a system that treats them for who they are. There is nothing that could be more American than that.

I urge my colleagues to recognize that this is the one bill that the House of Representatives can pass, can earn the President’s signature, and can become a law. So I will simply say again, as we go through this exercise, let’s have a plan that is going to pass a law, not pass a bill.

I yield the floor.

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. COTTON). The Senator from Iowa.

Mrs. ERNST. Mr. President, I would like to start by thanking my colleagues and especially my friend from Iowa, our senior Senator, CHUCK GRASSLEY, for his tremendous work on this project and all of those who participated in the discussions on the Se- cure and Succeed Act.

This legislation puts us on the best path forward to provide a permanent solution for our DACA recipients, all while strengthening our borders and entry security. Our legislation addresses the unique challenges faced by the DACA population, many of whom were brought to America by their parents through no fault of their own when they were just children.

In Iowa and across our Nation, DACA recipients are an integral part of our community. They are our neighbors, they are our classmates, and they are our fellow churchgoers.

This last summer, while I was at the Clay County Fair in Iowa, I was approached by a young lady. She came up to me and said: Senator ERNST, I would like to know where you stand on DACA.

So I explained my position to her.

Meanwhile, she is pulling out her billfold. Out of the billfold, she pulled out a small card. She showed it to me, and she said: I am a DACA recipient.

I said: Well, thank you for taking the time to come up to me and sharing your story with me.

She was there with her younger siblings at the county fair, just enjoying the day, and she explained her situation to me. She had been brought into the country by her parents. They came illegally into the country from Mexico. Then she pointed at her younger sib-ings, and she said: They were born here. They are citizens, but I am not. I am not.

As we were standing there at the Clay County Fair, right by the Iowa Army National Guard recruiting booth—I was a member of the Iowa Army National Guard—she went on to explain to me that a while back she had actually met with one of the recruiters, and they had told her: We can’t accept you. We can’t accept you because you are a DACA recipient.

She expressed to me how disappointed she was. She wanted to join our military. She wanted to serve this country—the only country she had known to be her home, the country she loved. Her story and her determination and her desire to serve this country and to defend our freedoms were absolutely clear to me. This bill would allow DACA-eligible recipients to defend the only country they have ever known—the country they love.

That said, I cannot overstate the importance of addressing the legal, economic, and security concerns that are ever present in this debate. A huge priority of mine has been, and remains, to provide border security. Our homeland and our borders must be secure, period. Tragically, human, drug, and sex trafficking are still viable markets in the darkest corners around this world. Unfortunately, we have those corners of the world right here in our own Nation. Ensuring the integrity of our immigration system is essential in working to prevent these bad actors from infiltrating our very own borders.

This legislation would direct funds toward bolstering our border control and various degrees of security along the border, such as physical and virtual fencing, radar, and other technologies. It also cuts immigration loopholes and ensures that dangerous criminals are denied entry.

This legislation addresses the current debate in a humane and thoughtful manner, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support this commonsense pathway forward.

Thank you.

I yield the floor.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Carolina.

Mr. TILLIS. Mr. President, I wish to personally thank the Presiding Officer for all the work he has done to come up with what I believe is the right framework for fulfilling the promise to solve and create a viable solution for the DACA population and to deal with the other things that are critically impor- tant as we take this first major step in immigration reform after decades of failure.

Last year, I and Senator LANKFORD, who will be speaking after I do, decided we really wanted to get a discussion around a legal path to citizenship for a significant portion of the population of the illegally present. The deferred action program that was implemented by President Obama is what we used as kind of a baseline for determining how we could actually define that population and set terms so we could ultimately accept them into this country, and they could ultimately get citizenship.

The proposal we have outlined today—and I should also thank Chairman GRASSLEY for his leadership. I have served on the Judiciary Committee for 3 years during my first term in the Senate and for 3 years on the Immigration Subcommittee. Under his leadership, we have crafted a framework that is consistent with what the President has proposed.

It is also consistent with what virtually anybody who has been around here for any amount of time has voted for in one form or another. It is a four- pillar framework that first begins with a path to citizenship for some 1.8 million DACA-eligible persons in the United States today. They were young when they came into this country. Some are adults now, but they came to this country through the decision of their parents. I, for one—and I believe many of my colleagues who support this bill—believe they should be given an opportunity to be U.S. citizens.

After the bill is ratified, they will have an opportunity, based on a 10-year or 12-year timeline, to have the certainty of having legal status and then a path to citizenship that could be 10 to 12 years. It is fairly straightforward, in terms of the requirements to come into the program. Some 1.8 million will qualify, once we ratify this bill and send it to the President’s desk.

Coupled with this, it is critically important to not make the mistakes of the past. First off, let’s not just come in and assume we are going to pass a standalone Dream Act. The reason for that is, it has failed every single time it has been attempted. It has failed under a Republican administration. It has failed under a Democratic administration. It even failed at a time when President Obama was in the White House, and there were supermajorities of Democrats in the Senate and a majority in the House. So even when not a single Republican vote would be necessary, they were unable to produce a solution.

Now, this week, we have an opportunity to debate one that I think works. No. 1, there is broad consensus. Even among people who have never supported a path to citizenship before, there is broad consensus that this is a workable, viable, compassionate framework. So 1.8 million DACA-eligible persons qualify for a path to citizenship.

Then we get into border security. Senator ERNST talked about border security. It is critically important to think about border security. It is not the wall. The President has said he does not see in his vision a wall going from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. There are certainly places where we need structures, but we also need so many other things layered on top of it so we actually know who is coming to this country, what is coming to this country, and if they should try to cross the border illegally, we know where they are for no other reason than for humanitarian reasons. Thousands of people have died crossing the border—over the last 20 years, over 10,000 people and about 1,000 of them, young children.

By putting into place a wall structure where it makes sense, better technology and resources at the border, we are going to know who is coming into this country. We are going to know what drugs are coming into this country. We are going to be able to do a much better job of finding and protecting people who may be trafficked to this country for the purposes of the sex trade—human trafficking.

It comes through a commonsense, 10- year implementation that was developed by Homeland Security and Border Patrol. This wasn’t something that started in the White House; it is something that has taken a year or two to get into place, which is a rational, multiphased, multifaceted solution for border security.

Then what we have to take a look at is the reality of our broken immigration system. We have millions of people waiting to come into this country, some of them as long as 20 years. This proposal—the proposal we will introduce this week and hopefully gain the support of the Senate, that we know the President supports, and we believe the House would support—draws down a queue that has been out there for almost 20 years. So 3.9 million people who are in the process right now have been petitioned for because of a family relationship with some other U.S. citizen. We are proposing actually trying to figure out a way to accelerate that, to have them move through the naturalization process far sooner than they will if we fail to produce a solution this week. Then, over time, we can find other possible opportunities for immigration.

Today why don’t we at least look at how we fix the broken immigration system to make sure those who are in the system know we are not turning our backs on them. Then, over time, we can get on to possibly—in my case, I think, at some point, we could actually build a case for even more legal immigration than we have today, but, for now, let’s at least make sure we have an immigration system people can rely on and can actually become U.S. citizens.

The real sticking point—and I think what we are going to see this week—is we are beginning to see more and more consensus on the three pillars I just discussed: the DACA population, border security, and the visa lottery being used in a way that rewards merit and also uses green cards to bring more people into the country sooner rather than the two decades they have been waiting.

The last thing we have to look at is chain migration—family unification or reunification. We are out of step with most other countries in terms of how we allow immigration into this country. I, for one, think it is reasonable to continue to have a component to allow families to be reunified—people who come over on work visas or people who are coming through whichever immigration process they may choose, but at the end of the day, to have such a small number of our immigrant population—some 1 million every year— come in without regard to merit is irresponsible. In fact, I think if we continue to do it, we do it at the expense of maybe future immigration. We want more and more skilled people—people who can come to this country and contribute immediately, satisfy the needs of our society, and we can do that through a reasonable, rational discussion about what our immigration policy should look like over time.

I will leave my colleagues with this: In a country like Canada, 63 percent of their legal immigration has a skill requirement associated with it. In a country like Australia, it is the same thing, but almost three-quarters of all of our immigration has no tie whatsoever to the needs of this Nation—our economy, our educational institutions, our communities.

All we are saying is, let’s take a look at this and maybe change the proportions so we can actually have a program that is modernized, that is also focused on the needs we have for our great country.

This week, we are going to hear a lot of things. I told a group today at lunch to be ready for me to vote against something they would expect me to vote for. I am going to do that. I fully expect to have some of my Republican colleagues and some of my Democratic colleagues offer an amendment that I don’t have a problem with the underlying policy, but I have a huge problem with producing a result in the Senate which has virtually no chance of going to the President’s desk and becoming law. Then, we will ultimately get on the Secure and the Succeed Act. It is a well-structured, four-pillar solution that has been very much instructed by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, that I know the President will support, and I believe the President could convince our colleagues in the House to get it to his desk.

So, again, I thank my colleagues Senator LANKFORD and Senator GRASSLEY, Senator PERDUE, Senator COTTON, all of those who have weighed in—Senator CORNYN—to try and craft a solution that is responsive to the President’s framework, responsive to some of the concerns our friends on the other side of the aisle have, and now it is time for us to act.

Let’s do something different. Let’s produce a result. Let’s not get up here and talk about it and say: Well, I tried. Let’s produce a result. Let’s provide certainty to these people waiting for us to act, to those DACA recipients. Let’s secure our border, and let’s modernize our broken immigration system. If we do that, we have done a great thing.

Thank you.

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. ERNST). The Senator from Utah.

Mr. HATCH. Madam President, today we begin our immigration debate in earnest. Senator MCCONNELL has kept his promise to bring an immigration vehicle to the floor. This week, we will be taking a series of votes on DACA, border security, and other related sub- jects.

I wish to take a few minutes now to outline where I am on these issues and where I see this week’s debate heading.

I have made very clear that I believe we need a legislative fix for DACA. We cannot continue to keep people in our country and grant them work author- ization by Executive fiat. DACA recipi- ents deserve certainty. So, too, do other immigrants who enter our country legally and have done their best to follow the rules.

We also need better border security and interior enforcement. Thirty years ago, we granted amnesty to nearly 3 million illegal immigrants, and the result over the next two decades was a surge in illegal immigration. We need to prevent that from happening again.

I think it is fair and equitable to give DACA recipients a pathway to lawful status because they came to our coun- try through no fault of their own, but I also believe we need to pair DACA legislation with strict border security and interior enforcement measures so we don’t find ourselves right back here again in another 20 or 30 years or even sooner.

I also think legal immigration needs to be a part of the discussion; in particular, high-skilled immigration. I have spoken several times on the Senate floor about how high-skilled immigration is merit-based immigration. It is immigration targeted at the best, the brightest, and the most highly educated. It is immigration targeted at individuals who have the skills employers need.

I believe we can find a path forward on our current immigration controversies, and I am committed to doing everything I can to bring both sides together. But I also want to be clear right here at the outset: High-skilled or merit-based immigration needs to be part of the discussion, especially if we start talking about reforms to family-based immigration.

Getting to 60 votes is going to take a lot of negotiation. I know that as well as anyone. I have passed more bills into law than any other Member of Congress alive today. I know how this process works.

So I say to my colleagues, as you think about how to advance your priorities this week, keep in mind the priorities I have outlined recently. Take a look at my I-Squared bill and the amendments I will be filing. These are indications of what I am hoping to accomplish.

I believe we can get something across the finish line. I really do. I think we can have a bill we can all be proud of, but in order for that to happen, we have to be reasonable. We have to con- sider a broad range of views. It can’t just be ‘‘my way or the highway.’’ We need a bill that can also pass the House and then be signed into law by the President.

I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work, and I am ready to work with my colleagues to find areas of compromise and to accommodate competing priorities. I have made my priorities clear. Let’s work together to get something done.

Madam President, I yield the floor.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida.

Mr. NELSON. Madam President, I am looking forward to this debate. As Senator HATCH has indicated, it is going to be a robust debate, and it could produce the best of what the Senate can produce: a bipartisan agreement, which it will have to be in order to get to 60 votes.

I am glad to come here to the floor to support the Dreamers. Six months ago, the President said he was eliminating protections for Dreamers, and some of them have already lost that status. These young people, of course, were brought here sometimes as infants, they grew up here, and they only know America as their country. We owe it to them to enact permanent protection and a path to citizenship. It is long past time for Congress to act and to make sure this becomes law. This week presents a very good opportunity to do that after we have been waiting for al- most two decades. This Senator is a sponsor of the Dream Act, and I have supported Senator DURBIN in his efforts ever since I came to the Senate. Now, this is the third term.

I have always been inspired by the story of Elisha Dawkins. I found out about him because I read a news clip that he was in jail. Here was a fellow who grew up in America, only knowing that he was American because he was brought to America from the Bahamas at age 6 months. He served two tours in Iraq. He came back and joined the Navy Reserves. He had a top secret clearance. His Reserve duty was in Guantanamo, with that top secret clearance. Then, because of an application for a passport, he was suddenly swept up and put in jail.

Fortunately, we found out about it and started raising a stink about it. It was brought to the attention, in one of the court hearings, of a Federal judge, and the Federal judge said to the assistant U.S. attorney: What in the world are you doing putting a fellow like this in jail?

Of course, after that tongue-lashing from a Federal judge, we got involved with Elisha. I am happy to report that today Elisha is a U.S. citizen. Elisha is a productive member of the Jacksonville community, he is educated, and he is contributing to his community.

Our country is so much better off having the Dreamers. They are our people. They are among the best and the brightest.

The Senate has voted overwhelmingly to pass a bipartisan bill that includes victories and concessions from both sides. That was the comprehensive immigration reform in the past, about 5 or 6 years ago, but of course the House wouldn’t take that up. So the only way to achieve a solution to the DACA crisis is to keep it simple: on one side, a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and on the other side, what is required by the White House—a path for funding for border security.

I have been working with the next Senator who is going to speak in what we call a bipartisan group that has been carefully trying to put together a balanced approach to find a solution. Neither side is going to get everything they want, but that is why it is called a negotiation.

I urge my colleagues in the Senate to come together to achieve a reasonable and bipartisan agreement as soon as possible—I hope by the end of this week. The Dreamers need to know we appreciate them, and now we are going to turn that appreciation into law.

Madam President, I yield the floor.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.

Mr. LANKFORD. Madam President, if we go back over the past 20 years, it is hard to find an immigration debate that occurred that ended with making law. Immigration issues have been contentious over the years—unnecessarily so. They have been emotional over the years—unnecessarily so. It is connected to families, to people, to real lives, and to real stories. I get that. But now we are at a point again where we will be debating immigration on this floor all of this week.

The DREAM Act was proposed 15 years ago. Three different times it has come up before the House or the Senate or both. All three times in 15 years, it has failed—just dealing alone with those Dreamers. Then a very, very large package was tried in 2013. That included not just the Dreamers but their parents and every other person illegally present in the United States— wholesale reform of every part of the immigration system. That was tried in 2013; it also failed. Now it is time to find that middle ground. Where can we find the basic issues here?

In September, the President of the United States challenged the House and the Senate to get a legislative solution for the recipients of DACA and those who are DACA-eligible. At the time, the President was decried as throwing people out of the country, but he was very clear at that point: He did not feel President Obama had the authority to give a wholesale Executive answer for those individuals on what they called deferred action for childhood arrivals. But President Trump said: I want a legislative solution. I want certainty. I don’t want these individuals to sign up every 2 years and be at the whim of some future Executive and go through the process. Let’s get a permanent answer to all of this, but with that, we have to pick up the issues around it at the same time.

The President actually gave the nation a great gift at that time: a deadline. For two decades, immigration has been well known to be a problem, but there has been no deadline. The President set the deadline of March 5 to have this resolved. We are nearing that now. It is time to move from just debating it in the hallways and in our offices to debating it on the floor of this Chamber and trying to get this resolved.

Here is what I have proposed, along with Chairman GRASSLEY, JOHN CORNYN, DAVID PERDUE, THOM TILLIS, TOM COTTON, and JONI ERNST: to lay out a commonsense solution, to say, let’s stick to four items—four items that the White House has also identified. Those things are all connected.

Those four items begin, obviously, with DACA and those who are DACA- eligible, about 1.8 million individuals who are currently living in the country, who grew up literally speaking English, pledging allegiance to our flag, going to our schools, and engaging in our commerce. In every way, they have lived and functioned as Americans, except they are not. They were brought into the country illegally.

So now what do we do about that? President Obama set a time period. He set a 2007 time period. You had to have been in the country by 2007, be under a certain age, and then you were eligible. We actually advanced that since it has been so long now and said: From the time President Obama announced that—which was June 2012—if you were in the country at that time or before and you are under that time period and that certain age, you are eligible for it. Apply. Go through the process.

We think that is not only entirely fair, it is also entirely compassionate. But it also sends out a warning to those who are going to rush at our border and say: The easiest way to illegally cross into the United States is to bring a child with you. We do not want that to occur. That is a dangerous crossing in many places, many children have died, and individuals have had horrible things happen to them on the way. We want to discourage that. So we set the June 2012 date—that is when President Obama first announced the program—and said that is a reasonable time period. But with that, we said it would take 10 years for those individuals to be able to cross into naturalization. That is in line with other individuals around the world who are currently getting in the line right now. There is no one jumping ahead of anyone else but holding those individuals harmless who are already here and saying: Let’s start you through the process, and 10 years from now, you will get naturalization.

At the same time we put them in line, we also put in a process for border security. The reason we currently have 11-plus million individuals in the country with no legal status is because our border security process has been so bad. This is no great shock to anyone. So what we are doing is taking those individuals in DACA and saying: Let’s take 10 years to move you into naturalization. During that 10-year time period, we also want to set up the basics of border security. That gives us time to get security first and naturalization second for those individuals but both with great certainty.

It is not just a wall, although there should be sections of wall. In areas where it is highly populated on both sides of the border, we need a wall as a demarkation. But in most areas of the border, it is not highly populated on both sides; it is open desert or mountains. We need cameras. We need technology. We need interaction with our National Guard, who can bring resources to the battle as we try to interdict drugs. We need increased ability in our laws dealing with terrorism, drug smuggling, human smuggling. We need consistency in how we handle immigration. Right now, there is one policy if you come from Cuba, another policy if you come from Honduras, and another policy if you come from Mexico. Why don’t we be consistent with our immigration policy?

We need additional Customs and Border Patrol agents. We need additional ICE agents. My colleagues immediately recoil from that and say that is interior enforcement. Actually, it is not. If you have additional Customs and Border Patrol agents and they pick up someone at the border, they are immediately transitioned into ICE custody, where they are detained as they go through the process. But you can’t just detain people. You also have to have judges and attorneys. You have to have advocates for those individuals. So we need to increase the number of judges, attorneys, and advocates to be able to help. We need to increase the number of translators to make sure that we get good response from those individuals and that they understand what is going on.

Right now, there are 600,000 people in a backlog waiting for their day in court, for due process—600,000. That is absurd. One of the reasons we have such an open, porous border is that individuals know that if they get across the border, they will only be detained a couple of weeks and then they will be released into the United States with what is called a notice to appear. Some people appear at their court date sometimes 2, 3, 4 years later, and some people do not, but they have been released into the United States in the meantime. We need to accelerate that process.

We have individuals who come across the border and they claim asylum, but they don’t get an asylum hearing for a couple of years. We should have that as a rapid process. They should get due process, and they should be able to make that claim. As we have said over and over again, justice delayed is justice denied.

We have some interesting things that we put out in this dealing with the cost to the taxpayers. We put a cap on the amount that we can spend per person, per day in housing individuals, and we set the cap at $500 per day, per person to actually do detaining. We think it is a reasonable amount, and, honestly, it is one of the things I think should be universally accepted, both by the taxpayers and by this body. We put in additional penalties for those who are doing human smuggling and human trafficking and trafficking drugs across our border. We deal with some nation-states that will not accept criminal aliens.

Many people in this body, and certainly across the United States, may be surprised to know that for countries such as Cuba, if there is an individual picked up in the United States who was convicted of armed robbery and is illegally present in the United States, even though they have committed a violent offense, typically in other countries, they would have to suffer the consequences of being in prison here for their offense, and then they would be deported back to their country, but Cuba does not accept them. Even though they are illegally present in the United States and they commit a violent offense, they do their time period here, and then they are released back into the United States.

Why would we do that? We need to establish a process to resolve this. That is basic with border security and also dealing with naturalization for DACA. We have had individuals who have said: Where does the diversity lottery and the issue of family unification come into this?

Let me tell you how it connects—and they absolutely do connect. Right now we have 4 million people waiting through the process to legally come to the United States. That is a 20-year backlog—20 years. That is irrational. What we would like to be able to do is to fix the process. Before we add another 2 million people into this and take a 20-year process to maybe a 25- year or 30-year process, once we get to that backlog time period, let’s fix what is obvious.

Quite frankly, this issue of family reunification is not a new issue. In 1995, Democratic House Member Barbara Jordan led a study on what to do on immigration and made a major proposal on what to do on what they called—at that time, in 1995, in this Democratic-led group—chain migration. It said that adult siblings and adult children should come in under their own merit, not under their family and that we should target skills for individuals who are coming in, not just ‘‘It is my brother-in-law; so he gets a chance to come as well.’’

This would allow us to empty out that backlog—the 20-year backlog—to come into the United States at a faster pace. The diversity lottery is not a challenge with diversity—far from it. We have people from all over the world who come into the United States, and we continue to welcome people from all over the world.

I am fascinated watching the Olympics. I watch people march in from many countries. Everyone looks the same under their flag until you get to the United States. When the United States marches in, you can’t pick out which one looks American. We are American. In many countries around the world, they all look the same because you are not welcome if you don’t look like them. That is not so with us. We welcome people freely from around the world, but we also want them to bring a set of skills. We believe that we can use those same numbers to encourage people from around the world and bring their skills into the United States, to repurpose the diversity lottery and say: Yes, come. Come from everywhere around the world, but come bringing your skills because we need it as a nation. You are always welcome to come.

It is far from making the Statue of Liberty cry or polishing up her torch. It is saying: We are open to the world. Come and bring your talents and abilities. We will need it in the days ahead.

If we want to prevent a 20-year backlog from getting even worse, we have to fix the family migration issue. If we want to deal with border security and deal with the very real threats that we face, as well as just individuals who want to come to work, we have to deal with the basics of border security, and we should address the issue of DACA recipients. We can do this. We will walk through this journey together. Over the course of this week, I hope we can keep this civil and open and fact-based, rather than charged with emotion and accusations. We all want to help the country. Let’s work on helping the country together this week.

I yield the floor.

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. MORAN). The Senator from Iowa.

Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, we have had a chance today to listen to my colleagues discuss what we think is the only piece of legislation that can get through the Senate, through the House of Representatives, and, most importantly, be signed by the President of the United States. All are co- sponsors of this bill, except Senator HATCH, who spoke on another issue that he is very interested in, but it is a very important immigration issue as well.

We heard from Senator CORNYN. Then I spoke. Senator COTTON spoke and Senator ERNST, Senator TILLIS, and Senator LANKFORD. Senator PERDUE is one of those who is a cosponsor of the bill and would have liked to have been here to speak, but he is just now returning from his constituency.

We have tried to lay out a path to giving DACA kids certainty, doing it from a standpoint of being humanitarian for people who were brought to this country by their parents. Their parents may have broken the law—and they did break the law—by coming over our borders without documenta- tion, but we never should hold children responsible for what their parents did. This legislation takes a compassionate and reasonable approach to reforms, including a pathway to citizenship for a broad population. It grandfathers peo- ple waiting in line for family-based visas, and it expedites clearing that backlog. It helps to keep young people out of the same legal limbo in the future.

This legislation is a product of compromise. The President and many conservatives have come a long way to offer this plan and especially the part of the plan that offers citizenship to this group of people. For one example of compromise, as chairman of this committee, there are a lot of things I would have liked to have seen in this legislation that can’t be in there, as a way of getting a broad base of compromise. I am a strong supporter of mandatory E-Verify, but that is not in this document. I think the other side needs to be willing to compromise as well. We need to pass something that can become law. Several times my colleagues have been told that this is the only plan the President supports, and you have heard him say that on television many times since he put out the four-pillars program, as we call it, that came from his White House. The House isn’t going to bring up anything that the President will not sign. I think we need to stop political posturing and pass something that can fix a real problem by providing border security and certainty for DACA kids.

This legislation is a reasonable approach to shielding children illegally brought to our country through no fault of their own while also taking meaningful steps to ensure that nobody finds themselves in the same situation in the future. This is a rare opportunity to fix a real problem and protect the country in a thoughtful and compassionate way. We simply have to correct the loopholes in current law that allow dangerous criminals to enter and remain at large in our country.

Our proposal is supported by the President, who has come a long way to reach a compromise. Just think of the long way from the positions he took during his campaign for President. This President can be very correct in stating that a platform he once ran on he wants to serve on.

In this particular case, I think he has come to the same conclusion as a lot of us have: These young people are here through no fault of their own. They may be technically violators of the law, but as a practical matter, humanitarianism calls for us to make a legalization. This is the only Senate proposal that has any chance of passing the House and being signed into law. If my colleagues are serious about actually finding a real and permanent solution to the DACA crisis, they should be ready and willing to support this compromise.