What I mean by that is this. There is a sense of fairness that we see many times on the floor that is not addressed by the fact that we have about 12 million people in this country today illegally. People see this bill as straight amnesty, where all of a sudden we are going to make it legal that if you have been here working, for however long, you become legal in this country by virtue of being here...Senator Corker argued in 2007 that the "central fallacy" of the "comprehensive" bill of 2007 is that it allowed for "straight amnesty, where all of a sudden we are going to make it legal that if you have been here working, for however long, you become legal in this country by virtue of being here." Doesn't S. 744 do that? Doesn't Corker-Hoeven preserve the legalization-first approach of the Gang of Eight bill?
It is that point, I think, that has divided the American people, the fact that this bill does not address the inequity of allowing those people to remain here. These are people who came here, obviously, to support their families, and we understand what the motivation is for many people to be here, but this bill does not address that inequity. What I propose tonight and I am working with other Senators to hopefully make happen after we come back from recess, is to actually have a provision in this bill that treats people who are here illegally like those who wish to have a green card, like those who would be temporary workers in this bill. I would ask that other Senators work with me and others to create an amendment to this bill that actually would cause, over a reasonable amount of time, people who are working in this country to return to their home country and then come back through legal channels. I think that strikes at the very core of what so many Americans believe is so inappropriate about having illegal immigrants, illegal workers, automatically made legal.
I think that is a central fallacy in this bill as it has been offered today. After many of these technical amendments are agreed to over the course of the next few days, and as we come back from recess, I look forward to working with other Senators to try to ensure that if this immigration bill passes, it passes in a way that meets the sense of fairness the American public believes this bill ought to have; that it addresses that inequity of people who jumped in front of the line and came here, being here illegally and yet being able to benefit without, during a reasonable period of time, returning home and coming back through legal channels, once we have the mechanisms in place to allow people to do that. I hope to have the opportunity to work with others in this body to make that happen.
(In 2007, Sen. Corker seemed particularly to criticize the fact that the 2007 Senate bill did not require illegal immigrants to return to their native countries "and then come back through legal channels." S. 744 doesn't require that, either.)
Daniel Horowitz also recalls what Corker had to say about "amnesty" in 2006.