EM: Joining me now, Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican from Alabama, welcome to the show, great to have you on with us today, sir.
JS: Thanks, Ed, good to be with you.
EM: Well, I just got done reading this update over at Hotair.com about the…when Congress passes legislation, often you’ll find some perverse incentives that fall under the unintended consequences rubric, I guess. This seems to be one of these. If you’re a business owner, and you’ve got more than 50 employees, and you don’t offer health insurance, you could be fined unless you’re hiring amnestied, or what they’re calling amnesty, but workers…
JS: RPI’s, yes.
EM: …who have gone through the first pass of normalization, because they’re not eligible for Obamacare. And so you can avoid fines by hiring these guys instead of American citizens. Had you heard about this?
JS: Yes, it’s just one of the things that’s been discovered. Ted Cruz has really done a great job. He spoke about 30 minutes tonight laying that out on the floor of the Senate. And it’s just, this is just one more of the things that are being found in this Obmacare-type 1,200 page document that’s so complex that the sponsors and people who think it’s so wonderful, they don’t know what’s in it, because it’s almost impossible to find out what’s in it until it aims a gun at you and blows a hole in your head one day in the future. So this is, you know, we just don’t do comprehensive well in the Senate. And a step by step approach should be so much better, so much wiser, and we could do it in a way that would be, could actually work. I just think this is a typical example of a lot of the things we’ve found wrong with the bill.
EM: Well, let’s take the step by step approach here, and we’ll take the current bill and piece it out a little bit, and see if that would work in a step by step approach. Now the latest development in the actual legislative language is the Corker-Hoeven Amendment that dropped on Friday, and it’s on the Senate floor now. And if that was a standalone bill that did nothing, that had nothing else going on except for the border security visa program, would that be something that would be a good start to this process?
JS: Well, it could. It certainly would have a number of positive features to it in one sense. But it was made a part of a complete substitute, and it left in it the language that Senator Leahy passed in the Committee that said notwithstanding any fence requirements in this bill, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, shall not be required to build any fence if she doesn’t think it’s the best use of resources. And she’s already said she doesn’t intend to build a fence. She doesn’t think it’s necessary. And well, it’s going to add 20,000 agents. But Ed, your listeners need to be aware how the Congress works. This is merely a bill that authorizes Homeland Security to hire that many agents. It cannot be done until money is appropriated. And this doesn’t take place until eight years from now. And my best, I mean, I’m telling you, that will never happen. It’s not going to happen. Well, they say we’ve got a trigger in that people from RPI, the temporary status, the provisional status, can’t become a citizen, or first step, as a legal permanent resident, until all these things have occurred. But look, we’re giving amnesty, legal status to those people who’ve been here six, eight, five, four, three, two years, and they’re all going to get a legal status, so we’re going to kick them out of the country or something ten years later if Congress doesn’t complete the fence or hire all the border agents? They’re not going to be, there’ll be no action taken to enforce that, so that trigger in all reality is ridiculous. We’re going to wait ten years to hire the agents, we’re going to wait ten years to complete the fence? I mean, it needs to be done now if you’re serious and you want to change the illegality. But there’s a lot of those kind of things that are, both of those provisions are in the Corker-Hoeven substitute.
EM: Senator Sessions, I want to address that issue about the notwithstanding paragraph, because I did ask Senator Rubio about this, and he said that that’s part of a different section that has to do with where the fence goes, but there is a preceding section which is not subordinate to it, that says that 700 miles has to be built, period, that you’ve got to build 700 miles. Now we’ve got about 30 seconds in this segment, and we’re going to carry you over into the next segment, but just in 30 seconds, can you address that rebuttal?
JS: Well, I think the first word is notwithstanding section such and such. You don’t build a fence is the secretary doesn’t approve it. I think that word would control. So we’ve looked at that. We don’t think that’s a good argument.
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EM: Senator Sessions, we’ve got about three minutes left, and I really want to give you as much time as we possibly can here for you to make the case as to what needs to happen right now with this bill, and how the Senate actually needs to proceed on immigration reform. So I’m going to leave that to you.
JS: First, I think the Senate should reject the legislation, and then we start over, and we work with the House, who’s starting in a more effective way to actually create a bill that would fix the lawlessness. So we need an immigration system that creates a lawful system of immigration that we can be proud of, that sets standards for who should be admitted, and that standard should be to advance the public interest of America, not special interests of any one group or political influence. And there are several huge holes in our system. One is the entry/exit visa system. And the law exists today to require that to be entry and exit at land, sea and air ports, and it has to be biometric. This bill reduces that standard to only air and sea, and does not have to be biometric, contrary to the 9/11 Commission and previous laws we’ve passed. Another thing is it delays for years the implementation of the E-verify system at the workplace where employers would check the Social Security number, and get a reading as to whether or not this person is lawful or not. That system works now. It just needs to be applied to private corporations. And so those are just some of the huge things. You need to do all of those, and interior enforcement. It cannot be that a person who gets into the country illegally is never deported. So we just can’t focus on the border. 40% of illegal immigration today is visa overstays. It will increase. CBO said it will increase substantially in the future. We’re going to double the number of people that come by visas in the next, immediately on passing of the bill. So we’re going to have a huge increase in that. It’ll be over half, and so you’ve got to have interior enforcement and visa enforcement. So all that’s not in this bill. The border is just thrown out there after they got caught. The bill was sinking, people saw all the holes in it, so they threw up a promise of fences and agents, which previously they’ve been saying they could never do and was stupid. And now, they did it in desperation. But it still was written in a way that won’t work, even at the border. But there’s more than that, if we’re serious about creating a system we can be proud of.
EM: Senator Sessions, just briefly, got about 20 seconds. How do you do that and bring Democrats along on that?
JS: Well, Democrats have to see, Republicans, I think, should advance the bill that would actually work, treat compassionately the people that have been here for a time and haven’t been in trouble, and do that right. And then if you do that, and you create a lawful system in the future that can actually be enforced, how could they oppose it? They say they want a system that works in the future.
EM: Senator Sessions, thank you so much. I apologize, we have to go, but thank you very much.
End of interview.