Jun 17 2013
Jun 13 2013
Jun 13 2013
Thank you Mr. Chairman. I would like to call up my amendment #174 to strengthen the protection of Religious Freedom in the Military. This amends section 533 to clarify that expressions of belief that do not have an adverse impact on military readiness and good order and discipline are to be accommodated by the Armed Services.
Recent news reports about the Air Force meeting with organizations that try to subvert religious expression in the military have many around the United States concerned about the environment that is being created in the Armed Services. The leader of one of these organizations called Christians “monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces” and equated sharing one’s religion as “spiritual rape”.
For many of our men and women in uniform, their faith and religious beliefs are what sustain them through the enormous pressures and stresses of the battlefield, the months away from loved ones with little communication, the life-changing injuries, and the loss of close friends.
If an environment is created where those service members feel that expressing their religion, sharing their faith, or showing outward representation of their beliefs could be found in violation of military policy and grounds for reprimand, it will have an unsettlingly negative effect on military morale and undermine recruitment, retention, and cohesiveness efforts.
I understand that a delicate balance must be struck in the military so that good order and discipline are preserved. I believe that my amendment strikes that balance. Nothing in this would preclude disciplinary or administrative action for conduct that is proscribed by the UCMJ, and commanders would have the ability to maintain readiness and discipline in their ranks.
Our servicemen and women put their lives on the line everyday in order to protect our constitutionally guaranteed rights, including the expression of our beliefs. Congress must ensure that we are protecting them as well.
Jun 12 2013
Earlier today, I delivered a floor speech to identify the many problems with the Gang of 8 immigration proposal. I turned the speech into a series of tweets, so you can help me spread the word about the problems with this bill. Please help me RT these tweets:
S.744 offers more of same from Washington: plans, promises, commissions, studies and spending, but no action on border security. #CIRfloor— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) June 12, 2013
Failing to secure the border is the quickest way to repeat the mistakes of the past. #CIRFloor— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) June 12, 2013
If all we do is fix border-security portion, #immigration bill is still considerably weak in major areas, and is still unworthy of support.— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) June 12, 2013
S.744 offers no congressional oversight of how the executive branch implements these immigration reforms. #CIRfloor— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) June 12, 2013
As branch of gov. most accountable to people, Congress must play a vital role in approving, overseeing, and verifying #immigration reforms.— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) June 12, 2013
S.744 leaves Congress and the American people out of the loop. #CIRfloor— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) June 12, 2013
I can certainly see why Congress would want to evade responsibility for consequences of S.744, but our republic shouldn't function this way.— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) June 12, 2013
S.744 is inherently unfair to the many who have tried to navigate our current broken immigration system. #CIRfloor— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) June 12, 2013
Proponents of this #immigration bill have so far refused to do their own cost analysis. Taxpayers should know how much it will cost.— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) June 12, 2013
There are reports that Democrats have asked CBO to evaluate S.744, but report won’t be published until next week. #betterlatethannever— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) June 12, 2013
Far from “good,” S7.44 repeats the mistakes of the past, makes our #immigration system worse, and will lead to bigger problems.— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) June 12, 2013
I support legal #immigration into our country and recognize that immigration is vital to nation's success.— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) June 12, 2013
There are more than 40 individual pieces of immigration-related legislation that have been introduced in this congress alone.— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) June 12, 2013
I have sponsored, cosponsored or could support over half of the 40 #immigration bills introduced in 113th Congress.— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) June 12, 2013
Today, I will be filing almost a dozen amendments to the Immigration Reform bill. Here is a brief description of each one:
- Lee #1208 Requires fast-track Congressional approval at the introduction of the DHS strategies and at the certification of the strategies’ completion. Increases accountability of Congress to oversee implementation of border-security measures.
- Lee #1209 Clarifies that the legalization process should be funded entirely by the fees collected. Lessens the economic cost of immigration reform.
- Lee #1210 Removes eligibility for RPI status for those who have absconded or sought to re-enter after receiving a deportation order. Toughens enforcement of existing immigration laws.
- Lee #1211 Replaces “any offense under foreign law” with “any act committed outside the United States” as a ground for inadmissibility.
- Lee #1212 Increases requirements to show that back taxes have been paid.
- Lee #1213 Clarifies that penalties for RPI applicants may not be waived, limited, or reduced. Decreases the authority of the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive penalties.
- Lee #1214 Removes “sworn affidavits” from the list of documents that RPIs may use to satisfy the employment requirement for adjustment to LPR status. Toughens enforcement standards for RPI status.
- Lee #1215 Requires an annual report on welfare benefits granted to illegal aliens and RPIs. Fosters greater oversight of who is eligible for the country’s generous programs.
- Lee #1216 Inserts intent requirements for employer discrimination provisions. Tightens the law to prevent frivolous lawsuits.
- Lee #1217 Increases the W-visa starting cap from 20,000 to 200,000 and the post-phase-in cap from 200,000 to 400,000. Better manages the flow of new immigration to the country while increasing access to needed labor.
- Lee #1207 Allows Customs and Border Patrol agents to engage in enforcement activities on Federal Lands, where they are currently prohibited from protecting the border.
Jun 07 2013
May 16 2013
May 16 2013
May 09 2013
On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee begins consideration of the Gang of 8’s comprehensive immigration proposal. Though I believe the only way to achieve success in reforming our immigration system is through a step-by-step approach, I intend to use this opportunity to engage in constructive debate about how to make our border more secure, our immigration system more efficient and reliable, and our country more prosperous.
I have submitted 23 amendments to the bill that serve to highlight reforms I believe we must make to our immigration system.
One of my top priorities is to increase congressional oversight of executive branch activities as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and others work to secure our border. One of my amendments would require congressional approval of DHS plans to secure the border and a congressional vote to certify that all the metrics and “triggers” are met before allowing anyone to apply for Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status. This amendment is key to ensuring we have real protections in place to prevent further widespread illegal immigration before beginning any legalization process.
I have also circulated several amendments that would narrow the scope of those who are allowed to apply for RPI status, as well as amendments that strengthen certain enforcement provisions. For example, one provision would make it a crime to attempt to use fraudulent documents to enter the United States. Under the proposed bill, only those who are successful in using fraudulent documents to enter the country could be punished. One of my amendments strengthens the requirement that illegal immigrants pay back taxes, and another clarifies that certain penalties may not be waived by DHS.
Another priority for me is to make our legal immigration system more efficient and more responsive to the changing needs of our economy, while taking special care not to give an incremental benefit to anyone who broke the law. I have several amendments that would reform the H1B visa system, which pertains to high-skilled labor, as well as a provision that would significantly widen the door for those who are outside the country and are seeking to use the proper channels to work here legally. Finally, I submitted an amendment that would make filing E-Verify documentation easier and less prone to errors.
While I am skeptical that all our immigration challenges can be solved in a single, comprehensive bill, I want to use this opportunity to discuss how best to fix our system and offer constructive proposals that make needed reforms. If this comprehensive bill proves unsuccessful, those challenges must still be addressed. I look forward to beginning this process.