Senate Democrats

Reid: Republicans Like To Complain About Broken Immigration System, But Show No Interest In Fixing It

Democrats Stand Ready to Work With Republicans on Permanent Fix Whenever Republicans Decide Fixing The System Is More Important Than Partisan Politics

Washington, D.C.Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding Republican hypocrisy on immigration reform and the DREAM Act. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Republicans in Congress are fond of complaining that this country’s immigration system is broken. They’re less interested in working with Democrats to fix it.

No one disagrees that America’s immigration system needs repair.

But every time Democrats offer to work together on comprehensive immigration reform, Republicans find an excuse to fight sensible change.

And every time Democrats propose bipartisan legislation to provide a pathway to citizenship for children brought here illegally through no fault of their own, Republicans find an excuse to oppose our practical reforms.

There is no better illustration of Republicans’ hypocrisy than their phony outrage over the weekend.

On Friday, President Obama announced the Administration would suspend deportation of upstanding young people brought here illegally as children – provided they attend college or serve in the military.

More than 800,000 young people who have done well in school and stayed out of trouble will benefit from this policy – and hopefully go on to be productive members of society.

In the past, Republicans have expressed broad support for the principles of President Obama’s directive.

And Senator Marco Rubio, the Junior Senator from Florida, has even talked up a similar idea to the press for months, although he never actually produced a proposal.

Yet Republicans’ glowing expressions of support for the President’s decision were not forthcoming. Instead, Republicans have cried about the way the directive was issued.

  • They prefer a long-term solution.
  • They don’t like the timing.
  • They should have been consulted, and an issue this important should have been left to Congress.

The complaints are varied, but they have one thing in common: none of them actually take issue with the substance of President Obama’s directive.

Leading Republican voices on immigration have yet to actually disagree with the decision.

They just don’t like the way President Obama made the decision – or that he will get the credit for bringing out of the shadows 800,000 trustworthy young men and women who know no other home but the United States.

But Republicans are right about one thing. President Obama’s directive is not a permanent solution – it’s a temporary fix.

So I remind my colleagues in both Houses of Congress – the next move is ours.

This reprieve for DREAMers shouldn’t be seen as a free pass for Congress.

Instead we should see it as a chance for Democrats and Republicans to work together on a lasting answer to the serious shortfalls of our broken immigration system.

And as we work, we’ll have the benefit of knowing the specter of deportation no longer hangs over the heads of hundreds of thousands of young people.

So now is hardly the time to walk away from the DREAM Act, which would have created a pathway to citizenship for young people brought to the country through no fault of their own.

And it’s certainly no time to abandon calls for comprehensive immigration reform that’s tough, fair and practical.

But that’s exactly what Republicans are doing – they’re taking their marbles and going home.

Since Friday, leading Republican voices on immigration reform have all but ceded the debate until after the election.

Republicans who once favored a permanent solution for America’s broken immigration system are now abandoning efforts to find common ground.

And the same Republicans who complained they weren’t involved enough in the President’s decision are now giving up any involvement in the broader immigration conversation.

It makes you wonder whether they were ever really committed to passing the DREAM Act or tackling comprehensive immigration reform.

After all, Senate Republicans have twice had their chance to vote for the DREAM Act. Both times they filibustered the measure.

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that my Republican colleagues are more interested in complaining about a system that’s broken, than in working with Democrats to fix it.