Jun 07 2007

Statement on the Obama Amendment

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) made this statement last night on the Senate floor against the Obama amendment.  The amendment would have undermined the merit-based system to handle future immigration.  It was defeated by a vote of 42-55.  Graham said:

“Thank you Mr. President.  I think it’s very appropriate that you be occupying the chair during this moment in this debate.  My good friend from Illinois says that to those who have worked so hard to get this bill to the point that it’s at, nothing personal, 'But I can’t live with this provision.'  

“You know, bipartisanship is music to the American people’s ears.  When you’re out there on the campaign trail, you’re trying to pull us all together, you’re trying to make American better.  Why can’t we work together?

“This is why we can’t work together.  Because some people -- when it comes to the tough decisions -- back away.  

“Because when you talk about bipartisanship, some Americans on the left and the right consider it heresy.  And we’re giving in if we pass this amendment.  

“The 12 million who have lived in fear for decades, my Republican colleagues and a majority have told our base we’re not going to put them in jail and we’re not going to deport them.  No matter how much you scream, no matter how much you yell, we’re going to make them right with the law.  

“We’re going to punish them, but we’re not going to play like they don’t exist.  And we are going to do thing different in the future.

“If you care about family, under this bill people are united in eight years who would wait 30 years to get here.  If you care about families wanting to wake up one morning and not be afraid, this bill does it.

“This amendment, in the name of making the bill better, says bipartisanship doesn’t have the “bi” in it.  It means that everybody over here who’s walked the plank and told our base you’re wrong, you’re going to destroy this deal.  And that is exactly what it is, a deal.  

“A deal to make American more secure, to give people a chance to start their lives over again and to have a new system that has a strong pro-family component but will make us competitive with the world because some people don’t want to say to the loud folks – ‘No, you can’t have your way all the time.’  

“Now let me tell you, this is about as bipartisan as you’ll get Mr. President.  Some of us on the Republican side have been beat up and some of you on the Democratic side have been beat up because we’ve tried to find a way forward on a problem that nobody else wants to deal with.

“To my friend, Senator Kennedy, thank you for trying to find a way, as much as we’re different, to make this country better, more secure, to treat the 12 million people in a way they’ve never been treated, and in my opinion, deserve to be treated, and a chance to start over.  What a sweet idea it is to have a second chance in life.  Well, they’re not going to get it if this [amendment] passes and American will be the worse for it.  

“What a great opportunity we have as a country not to repeat mistakes of 1986 by having a merit-based immigration system that has a strong family component but frees up some green cards so we can be competitive.  

“So when you’re out on the campaign trail my friend, tell them about why we can’t come together.  This is why.”