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Immigration and terrorism

"Immigration and terrorism" Continued...

But former Sen. Jim DeMint, the new head of the conservative Heritage Foundation, said implementing the bill would be too costly.

“At a time of trillion dollar deficits and $17 trillion in debt, the cost of implementing amnesty and the strain it will add to already fragile entitlement and welfare programs should be of serious concern for everyone,” he said.

Conservative criticism of the bill will include the argument that granting citizenship to illegal immigrants violates the rule of law and rewards unlawful behavior. But, in an effort to avoid alienating too many Hispanic voters, opponents are signaling they will focus on making economic arguments, such as the bill’s costs and its effect on a still volatile job market.

“This proposal would economically devastate low-income American citizens and current legal immigrants,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. “It will pull down their wages and reduce their job prospects. Including those legalized, this bill would result in at least 30 million new foreign workers over a 10-year period—more than the entire population of the state of Texas.”

Rubio, a Cuban-American with 2016 presidential ambitions, is fighting against many of his Republican colleagues, and in the process, putting his conservative bona fides on the line, according to numerous conservative radio hosts.

“We all wish we didn’t have this problem, but we do,” Rubio said. “Leaving things as they are—that’s the real amnesty.”

The feud is only expected to grow as the bill gets dissected and debated in the coming weeks.

With the complete text of the voluminous bill not being made public until 2 a.m. Wednesday (just two days before the first hearing), many politicians and their staffs are just beginning to digest its details. But initial concerns already have emerged.

Sen. Lee of Utah said the bill unwisely treats the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country as a monolithic group who were drawn to America for the same reasons. He also criticized how the bill lumps issues most lawmakers can agree on, such as border security and increasing the flow of high-skilled immigrants, with controversial items such as how to handle the nation’s illegal immigrant population.

Another hearing is scheduled for next week, but Lee fears the process is being rushed. “Reforms of this magnitude and importance deserve more than a couple of hastily scheduled hearings,” he said.

When Rubio’s turn in front of the podium arrived during Thursday’s formal unveiling of the immigration package, he began by veering off script.

“I’ve changed my mind,” he said in front of a room packed with reporters. Rubio then started to walk away before coming back.

“Just joking,” he laughed.

There may be times during the next rounds of what will surely be a contentious debate when Rubio will be tempted to change his mind again … minus the laughter.

Edward Lee Pitts
Edward Lee Pitts

Lee is WORLD's Washington Bureau chief. As a reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, he was embedded with a National Guard unit in Iraq. He also once worked in the press office of Sen. Lamar Alexander.

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