06.27.13

Leahy Closing Statement On The Senate’s Historic Debate Of Comprehensive Immigration Reform

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, June 27, 2013) –Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who is managing debate of the bipartisan immigration reform bill that has been pending for the last three weeks, made the following floor statement – his closing remarks in the debate -- on the Senate’s historic consideration of this legislation. The Senate will vote momentarily on final passage of the bipartisan measure that was also the subject of extensive consideration in the Judiciary Committee under Leahy’s leadership. 

“The world has never before seen such a vibrant, cohesive, economically exuberant and democratically successful experiment as ours.  A key ingredient of our successful formula has been, and will continue to be, immigrants anxious to become part of the American experience.  They have helped us to be a Nation in constant renewal, welcoming and using this constant influx of fresh talent and energy.  And so today is another historic day in the Senate.” 

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Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy
On the Border Security, Economic Opportunity,
and Immigration Modernization Act, S.744
June 27, 2013

The Senate’s Historic Debate On Comprehensive Immigration Reform

The American story is a story of immigration.  It is not only our history, it is our future.  Over the last few weeks, many of us have spoken about our own families’ immigration stories.  We all have such stories.  We have talked about our parents and grandparents seeking better lives for us, and we can all relate to that most compelling, innate urge to sacrifice for the ones we love.  We are inspired by our forbearers who wanted better lives for us and for themselves, and found those opportunities here, in America.  They taught us the fundamental values of family and of hard work and of fairness. 

With this legislation, we honor those American values.  We honor their search for freedom, for prosperity, and for the promise that America has held out to so many for so long.  Today is a good day for the Senate, and for the country.  Today, with the help of many Senators, we will address a complex problem that is hurting our families, stifling our economy and threatening our security. 

Several months ago, four Democrats and four Republicans began negotiating and drafting immigration reform legislation.  They produced a carefully balanced, fair and humane proposal that at its core is intended to make meaningful improvements to border security and most importantly, will help millions of people who dream the same dreams our ancestors did. 

I am proud of the role the Judiciary Committee has played in this process.  In late April, with the full participation of all 18 Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee, with unprecedented transparency, and with fairness to all in offering amendments and having the chance to debate them, we held several public markups to consider that legislation.  Over 37 hours, during the course of three weeks, the Senators on the Committee engaged in rigorous debate in full view of the American public.  We considered 212 amendments from Democrats and Republicans and approved 136 amendments in a room filled with spectators on both sides of the issue.  Of the amendments approved in Committee, 47 were Republican amendments and all but three were adopted with bipartisan support.  Even the staunchest opponents of this legislation have praised the Judiciary Committee’s process for consideration of this bill.

The world has never before seen such a vibrant, cohesive, economically exuberant and democratically successful experiment as ours.  A key ingredient of our successful formula has been, and will continue to be, immigrants anxious to become part of the American experience.  They have helped us to be a Nation in constant renewal, welcoming and using this constant influx of fresh talent and energy.

And so today is another historic day in the Senate.  The Senate will soon complete its work on remedies for a difficult and complex set of issues that has eluded us for many years.  The Senate last passed immigration reform legislation in 2006, under the leadership of Senator Ted Kennedy.  After the Senate’s work, the House of Representatives declined to take up the Senate’s bill.  I hope that will not happen again.  This issue is far too important to ignore, or to languish.  We should not play politics with this quintessentially American issue. 

At this moment, I know Senator Kennedy is smiling down on this chamber.  He would be overjoyed to see us pass this legislation on an issue he cared about so deeply.  I would like to think our old friend would be proud of what we have done. 

In a few minutes, the Senate will vote to pass a comprehensive solution to our broken immigration system.  This legislation will reunite families.  It will bring millions of people out of the shadows and into our legal system.  It will spur job growth and reduce our deficit.  And it will make us safer.  I urge all Senators to join with us to ensure a bright future for this great Nation by passing comprehensive immigration reform.

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