Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) says the new immigration bill will "provide safe harbor to those who have committed a variety of offenses" and "even those with criminal records."
Reacting to the bill (S. 744), Sen. Sessions says:
"Alarmingly, the bill leaves intact the single greatest obstacle to immigration reform: the Administration's abuse of prosecutorial discretion to prevent the enforcement of federal law. It will also provide safe harbor to those who have committed a variety of offenses-ranging from identity theft, to multiple immigration violations, and even those with criminal records."
Specifically, Sessions' office points to the section titled "Grounds for Ineligibility," which says one disqualifier is "3 or more misdemeanor offense" - suggesting that two convictions would warrant ineligibility.
The bill also empowers the Secretary to waive ineligibility based on criminal convictions for a variety of reasons, ranging from "humanitarian" concerns to "public interest":
"The Secretary may waive the application of subparagraph (A)(i)(III) or any provision of section 212(a) that is not listed in clause (ii) on behalf of an alien for humanitarian purposes, to ensure family unity, or if such a waiver is otherwise in the public interest. Any discretionary authority to waive grounds of inadmissibility under section 212(a) conferred under any other provision of this Act shall apply equally to aliens seeking registered provisional status under this section."
Sen. Sessions warns that passage of the bill would send a bad message:
"This bill opens up citizenship to recent arrivals and, remarkably, millions who overstayed their visas. If adopted, this bill would send the following message to the world: if you get a U.S. visa and it expires, never leave-just stay put and evade detection. It even opens up citizenship to those who have been deported from the country."