(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told participants at a town hall meeting in Rock Rapids, Iowa Wednesday that the immigration bill sponsored by the Gang of 8 and passed by the Senate in June is not an amnesty for illegal aliens.
“Senator, do you consider the Senate immigration bill amnesty?” Grassley was asked.
“Uh, I don’t use that word. I use the word legalization, because it’s a little bit different than what we did in 1986,” Grassley, who voted against the latest immigration reform bill, replied.“I would call the immigration bill in 1986 amnesty because there wasn’t any conditions on it.”
In January, the Hispanic Leadership Network called the Immigration Reform and Control Act signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 a “true amnesty” because “border security, fixing our visa system, and a temporary worker program….were never implemented.”
“I voted against the immigration bill in the Senate because it did legalization before border security, and I’ll have to explain that because if the authors of the bill were here, they would tell you that they had border security,” Grassley told attendees at the town hall meeting.
“But for the benefit of all of you, the bill that passed the Senate that I voted against and the authors’ telling you it’s got border security, this is how uncertain the border security is, that the secretary of Homeland Security within six months would present a plan on border security, and then six months later you would have legalization.
“Well, suppose the plan doesn’t work?” Grassley asked. “Then you’ve got legalization without [the condition of] border security” – Grassley’s own definition of amnesty.
“So I offered an amendment that was defeated that would say the Department of Health and Human Services, I mean Homeland Security, present a plan, implement the plan, and then if the plan brings border security, then legalize, see?” Grassley explained.
“So putting conditions prior to legalization I would say would preempt the use of the word amnesty,” he added, even though the Senate immigration bill legalizes illegal immigrants before securing the border.
Supporters of the Senate bill quickly pounced.
ThinkProgress ran a “Truth Bomb: Chief Opponent of Senate Immigration Bill Admits It’s Not Amnesty,” claiming that Grassley “is not the only Republican to debunk the amnesty myth.”
America’s Voice, a group which has been mobilizing activists to pressure House members into pasings the Senate immigration bill, agreed, saying that “Grassley’s insistence that the Senate bill is not [amnesty] puts him closer to immigration reform supporters like Jeff Flake and John McCain,” both members of the Gang of 8.