Former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, now head of the conservative Heritage Foundation, is rejecting the “Gang of Eight” immigration legislation released on Wednesday, saying it would be too costly and would reward those who came to the United States illegally with amnesty.
Before leaving Congress earlier this year, DeMint was among the most conservative lawmakers in the Senate and he helped establish its growing Tea Party coalition. Among the Tea Party proteges he left behind is Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is a key member of the Gang of Eight and the top spokesman for the immigration compromise.
DeMint, however, called the plan championed by Rubio, “incomprehensible.”
“The Gang of Eight bill introduced in the U.S. Senate violates the very rule of law principle that creates opportunity for immigrants and makes America a beacon of hope for the world,” DeMint writes. “Giving legal residency to the 11 million people who came here illegally has one definition: amnesty. Amnesty rewards unlawful behavior and diminishes opportunity and prosperity for lawful immigrants and all Americans.”
DeMint also points to the “significant cost to taxpayers,” the compromise would impose, at a time when the nation is grappling with a $17 trillion debt, by opening up entitlement programs to millions of people.
The Gang of Eight bill, is more than 800 pages and proponents want to vote on it in the coming weeks.
DeMint recommends shelving the bill and instead passing reform “in a transparent, step-by-step process” rather than in one massive piece of legislation.
“This will build trust with the American people and unite the country rather than divide it,” DeMint writes.