Last week, Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy said the Committee would move the Gang of Eight's anticipated "comprehensive immigration reform" bill with "deliberate speed." But this weekend, Gang of Eight Member, Sen. Marco Rubio, sent a letter to Sen. Leahy calling for an open and transparent consideration of immigration legislation.
Prior to Sen. Rubio's letter, Senators Leahy and Jeff Sessions had a back-and-forth exchange last week after a group of six GOP Senators (including Sessions) sent a letter to Sen. Leahy asking for more hearings and a slow process while considering the Gang of Eight's bill. Sen. Leahy told Sen. Sessions that the Committee had held plenty of hearings over the years and that he would move a bill with "deliberate speed."
In his letter, Sen. Rubio told Sen. Leahy that if immigration reform is going to happen this year, it must have the support of the American people.
"I write to express my strong belief that the success of any major legislation depends on the acceptance and support of the American people," Sen. Rubio wrote. "That support can only be earned through full and careful consideration of legislative language and an open process of amendments."
Sen. Rubio also suggested the idea of holding more hearings that was promoted by the six GOP Senators.
"I respectfully suggest that such a process must begin with a careful examination in the Committee including: hearings that explore multiple perspectives on the scope of the problems we face and the efficacy of the solutions we propose, markups in which a broad range of amendments can be considered, and a robust floor debate. All of this, and any Conference Committee deliberations, should occur in the full view of the American people, broadcast on CSPAN, and streamed live on the internet," Sen. Rubio wrote.
Sen. Rubio also contested Sen. Leahy's suggestion that immigration hearings in past Congress were sufficient for this year's process.
"I am aware that the Judiciary Committee, both under your leadership and under the leadership of your predecessors, has conducted a number of hearings related to immigration reform," Sen. Rubio wrote. "I am certain that those hearings deepened your knowledge of these issues and will guide much of your work this Congress. But they cannot be a substitute for fresh hearings to consider specific legislation as part of a national conversation."
Sen. Rubio also responded this weekend to new reports that union groups and business lobbyists have agreed to details for a guest-worker program. Reports indicate that the Gang of Eight's bill will include a new guest-worker program for low-skilled workers, issuing up to 200,000 new visas per year. The temporary workers will be paid the greater of the actual wages paid by the employer for the job or the prevailing wage as determined by the Department of Labor. Temporary workers will also be able to switch jobs and apply for legal permanent residence after one year.
Sen. Rubio issued a statement early Sunday morning saying that there is still no final agreement on an immigration reform bill between the members of the Gang of Eight, and reports that the bill was just about finished because of the agreement between the unions and business groups is "premature."
For more information, see Sen. Rubio's website.
Updated: Mon, Apr 1st 2013 @ 10:09am EDT