Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions said on the Senate floor Friday that Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s immigration endorsement contained misconceptions.
O’Reilly came out in support for immigration reform Thursday evening.
“Senator Rubio told me on the phone today that it would be at least 13 years, 13, before people in the country illegally right now could gain full legal working status, and even longer to achieve citizenship,” O’Reilly said in his Thursday endorsement. “Talking Points supports immigration reform, even though I well understand the new law will be somewhat chaotic, and it will be a magnet for even more people to come here illegally, which is why we need stepped up security along the border.”
Sessions called O’Reilly out Friday morning for his understanding of the timeline, saying that while “Bill O’Reilly’s Talking Points Memo is consistently a high-quality memo” and “very insightful,” O’Reilly demonstrated some of the “misconceptions” people have about the Senate immigration bill.
“It’s not sufficient to pass this legislation based on talking points, on spin from the sponsors of the bill. We have to say, ‘okay, does it really do that?’ and ‘How does it do it’ and ‘Can it be made better?’ and ‘Are their weaknesses?’”
Sessions then dissected O’Reilly’s understanding of the 13-year timeline.
“’There would be at least 13 years before people in the country illegally right now could gain full legal working status,’” Sessions quoted O’Reilly.
“Not so. Not so at all. Not even close,” Sessions responded to the quote. “Within a few months everyone applies for the [Registered Provisional Immigrant] status, the provisional status, will be given a social security card and the right to go to work and be lawfully in the country and cannot be deported unless they commit a serious crime. It’s virtually immediately, not 13 years.”
Sessions then took on O’Reilly’s assertion that it would take even longer for illegal immigrants to achieve citizenship.
“That’s not accurate either. It does take — this is how the citizenship and green card status works, permanent legal status. So, within months everybody that qualifies under the 11 million will be given R.P.I. provisional status, virtually immediately,” he said. “They will be able to take any job in America, move anywhere they want to in America, displace workers in America, compete for jobs wherever. That’s what will happen under the bill.”
“But for about 2.5 million who are people who came here as teenagers, the so-called Dreamers, they get citizenship in five years, they’ll have citizenship in five years, that’s 2 million, 2.5 million. And certain ag workers, those individuals who are illegally here become permanent legal residents permanently, They get their legal right to work immediately,” Sessions continued. “But in five years they get permanent legal status and the other eight to 10 million illegal immigrants would be eligible for green cards or legal permanent residence in ten years, not 13. So there is an immediate amnesty that precedes all this.”
“Legal status and the right to work is immediate. It’s not 13 years out there,” Sessions said.