Lee Statement on Group of Eight Proposal

January 28, 2013

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Mike Lee made the following statement with regard to the Statement of Principles on immigration reform released by the Group of Eight:

“Despite the often divisive rhetoric surrounding immigration reform, initial discussions have revealed much common ground between Republicans and Democrats.  We all support enhanced border security, stronger visa enforcement, effective employment verification measures, and humane treatment of those lacking legal status.  I believe the overwhelming majority of Congress could work together to enact significant and lasting reforms, particularly to strengthen border security and fix our legal immigration system. 

“I remain greatly supportive of what the group aims to accomplish and will continue to work with my colleagues to solve many of the challenges this important issue presents. Although I am encouraged by the process and continue to support efforts to make real progress on immigration reform, I am not able to sign the Statement of Principles released today.

“These guidelines contemplate a policy that will grant special benefits to illegal immigrants based on their unlawful presence in the country. Reforms to our complex and dysfunctional immigration system should not in any way favor those who came here illegally over the millions of applicants who seek to come here lawfully.

“Additionally, the framework carves out a special exception for agricultural workers that has little justification.  Maintaining the safety of America’s food supply is an important goal, but it is unclear why immigrants in this sector should achieve special status over skilled workers in industries equally important to the American economy.

“Overall, I am encouraged by the opportunities presented by the Group of Eight. I will be formulating an approach that deals with points of agreement on several issues, with special attention to addressing border security and fixing our legal immigration system before we create special categories for those here illegally.  I look forward to working closely with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on these proposals.”