Last week, 22 Republican senators sent a letter to President Barack Obama blasting him for “incrementally nullifying immigration enforcement”during his tenure..
“Your actions demonstrate an astonishing disregard for the Constitution, the rule of law, and the rights of American citizens and legal residents. Our entire constitutional system is threatened when the Executive Branch suspends the law at its whim and our nation’s sovereignty is imperiled when the commander-in-chief refuses to defend the integrity of its borders.”
Signing the letter were Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, McConnell, Sessions, Richard Shelby (R-AL), Mike Lee (R-UT), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), John Boozman (R-AK), David Vitter (R-LA), Jim Risch (R-ID), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Tim Scott (R-SC), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Ted Cruz (R-TX), John Hoeven (R-ND).
Republican Judiciary Committee members who did not sign were Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Wondering why South Carolina’s senior senator did not join the criticism, I emailed Graham and asked. Following is his response:
Thank you for taking time to contact me about immigration reform. Our immigration system should provide an opportunity for people to come to the United States, work hard, and make a better life. Unfortunately, this is not how our current system works. We have a border that is not secure, visa programs that don’t meet the needs of our economy, and a lack of commitment to enforce our laws. Decades of failed policy have created a de facto amnesty allowing approximately 11 million people to live in the United States illegally, many of which have been here for years
In order to end the de facto amnesty, I worked with my colleagues to introduce the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. To crack down on illegal immigration, we provide a layered approach to security. Our legislation ensures we build additional fencing in the areas of our southern border that need it most. We deploy the latest technology, including UAVs and sensors, to track illegal border crossers. We implement a mandatory employment verification system and track who enters and exits our country. We rebalance our legal immigration system to meet the needs of our economy while ensuring that if there is a qualified and available American worker, they are hired first.
If an illegal immigrant wants to stay in the United States they must not gain an advantage over those who are waiting in line and played by the rules. In order to be eligible to remain in this country, you must undergo a background check, pay a fine, and be up to date on your taxes. Only after you meet these thresholds will you be granted a probationary status and put in the back of the line. While in this status you are barred from welfare or other public benefits and must keep a job. Finally, before you are eligible for a green card or citizenship, you must demonstrate knowledge of American history and the English language. If you fail to meet these thresholds, you are deportable.
Now is the time to fix our badly broken immigration system. Illegal immigration continues to place real burdens on South Carolina and our nation. I understand that people are frustrated with this situation, and for good reason. While we can disagree on the best way to address this important issue, our legislation is tough but fair. We have a right, and a duty, to maintain and secure our borders, and to keep our country safe and prosperous. Our legislation helps accomplish this goal. I look forward to hearing from you again in the future and truly appreciate the opportunity to represent your interests in the United States Senate.
Lindsey O. Graham
United States Senator
Unfortunately, the letter is more boilerplate campaign talk than a response to the issue in question.