Thursday, May 25, 2006


Senate Passes Immigration Reform Bill

On Thursday afternoon, the Senate voted 62-36 to pass S. 2611, the "Hagel-Martinez compromise" immigration bill, paving the way for conference negotiations with the House, which enacted the highly damaging "Sensenbrenner Bill", HR 4437, last December. Despite attempts by a handful of Senators to fundamentally alter the bill that was reported out of the Judiciary Committee in March, the basic architecture of comprehensive immigration reform survived intact after nearly four weeks of Senate Floor debate on the measure and votes on more than 40 amendments.
The Senate bill includes a path to permanent legal status for most of the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country, a new temporary worker program, significant increases in family- and employment-based permanent visas, important reforms to the agricultural worker program, significant reforms to the high-skilled immigration programs, and relief for undocumented high school graduates (DREAM Act). The bill also includes some very harsh enforcement provisions and erosion of due process protections that will need to be addressed and corrected as negotiations move forward.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


JURIST - Paper Chase: Senate advances immigration reform bill by voting to limit debate

JURIST - Paper Chase: Senate advances immigration reform bill by voting to limit debate

The Senate has voted to end discussion and further amendment of the immigration reform bill. It is likely that the final vote will take place on Thursday. With the battle with the House yet to come.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Maybe I Spoke To Soon. Hastert Threatens to Derail Immigration Bill

The Washington Post reports today that Backers of President Bush's bid to revamp immigration laws are increasingly concerned about a House Republican policy that could block final agreement even if a bipartisan majority is within reach.

Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's insistence that major legislation reach the House floor only if it appears to be backed by a "majority of the majority" could throw a high hurdle in front of efforts to reach a House-Senate compromise on immigration later this year, lawmakers said. Hastert (R-Ill.) has invoked the policy in blocking bills that appeared likely to win approval from more than half of the House's 435 members but less than half of its 231 Republicans.

If this is the case, then it appears that the Republican's have a death wish (politically speaking) that could wipe out their control of Congress for years to come. I don't believe that the country whole heartedly favors a guest worker program. However, the failure to pass a comprehensive bill that takes a shot at trying to solve the massive immigration problems that this country faces, will only further solidify this Republican government's image of failure on all fronts.

The full story is at

Monday, May 22, 2006


Article: News - House called open to deal on immigration bill

Article: News - House called open to deal on immigration bill: "The man who would be the chief House negotiator on an immigration-overhaul bill said Sunday he was not ruling out discussing any provision in the Senate proposal, including letting millions of illegal immigrants eventually become citizens.

'I don't think anything is a deal-breaker,' Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner said on CBS's 'Face The Nation.'"

This week, the U.S. Senate is expected to pass S.2611, the Comprehensive Immigration reform bill. Last week, enforcement-only Senators made several attempts to remove or gut guest worker provisions from the bill but fortunately that part of the legislation has survived more or less intact. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has repeatedly stated he intends to schedule a vote on the bill this week. Once it is passed it still has bot be reconciled with the enforcement only bill passed by the House. House Republicans have been very vocal in their opposition to any form of guest worker program or amnesty as they incessantly call it. However, the comment quoted above, by one of the most strident opponents of "amnesty" indicates that it may not be that difficult to reach some middle ground as the President has urged. Even though he still called the Senate bill an amnesty hat he continues to be opposed to, there appears to be a glimmer of hope that Congressional Republicans (and Democrats) can put political maneuvering and ideological gamesmanship on hold long enough for this Congress to pass legislation that will substantially benefit immigrants to the U.S.

Perhaps there is still hope for a rational middle ground.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


President Again Urges a Rational Middle Ground.

In his weekly radio address Saturday President Bush publicly pressed his case for immigration reform for the third time this week and urged the Senate to pass a comprehensive immigration bill by the end of May so that negotiations can begin with the House on a compromise he can sign into law. In addition to repeating his pledge to send up to 6000 National Guard troops to the Mexican border and calling once more for a temporary worker program, Bush called for a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants now in the US in what could be construed as an appeal to his own conservative base:

"Some people think any proposal short of mass deportation is amnesty. I disagree. There's a rational middle ground between automatic citizenship for every illegal immigrant and a program of mass deportation. Illegal immigrants who have roots in our country and want to stay should have to pay a meaningful penalty, pay their taxes, learn English, and work in a job for a number of years. People who meet these conditions should be able to apply for citizenship -- but approval will not be automatic, and they will have to wait in line behind those who played by the rules and followed the law."

In addition to his Monday TV address on immigration reform Bush discussed the issue in extended remarks on a visit to an Arizona Border patrol station on Thursday.The Senate is slated to continue debate on the draft immigration bill this week in the lead-up to Memorial Day. A number of key amendments have already been adopted, including one that would create an additional 370 miles of fencing along the US-Mexico border and another that would deny the possibility of acquiring citizenship to illegal immigrants convicted of certain criminal offences. The US House of Representatives has already passed the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act, a strict immigration control act that makes unlawful presence in the US a felony and that could punish humanitarian groups aiding aliens present in the U.S. illegally.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Immigration Proposals Pass Test In Senate

Immigration Proposals Pass Test In Senate

The Washington Post reports this morning that initial attempts to remove the guest worker provisions from the Senate immigration measure were voted down on Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Congressional Immigration Debate Restarts

The last few weeks have seen massive demonstrations by immigrants in many parts of the country. It's about time. The only way that the politicians in Washington will be made to see that there is a significant number of people (many of them voters) on the pro-immigrant side is to make themselves heard.

The Restrictionist side has no qualms about flooding Congress and the media with phone calls, emails and personal visits decrying the possibility that illegal immigrants would be rewarded for breaking the law. Some polls show that public opinion was negatively affected by these public displays by large numbers of both legal residents and "illegals"Criticism has been along the lines of "They are hurting their own cause by speaking out and inconveniencing the public and their employers." Much the same criticism was levelled against demonstrators against the Viet Nam War in the late 1960's and the Civil Rights demonstrators of the early 60's. Regardless of what you think of their tactics, the direct effect of their actions or the justice of their cause, they were ultimately successful.

Now that the two week Congressional adjournment is over, Senate leaders have promised to restart debate on pending bills and have legislation passed (at least by the Senate) by May 29th. Last night the President made a heartfelt appeal for a "rational middle ground" between those who favor amnesty for undocumented workers presently in the country on one side, and those who favor mass deportations of illegals on the other. I don't think he has much of an issue with most Democrats or the liberal wing of the Republicans, it is his so called core constituancy of conservative republicans (and some Democrats) that he has to convince. The main purpose of the speech was to reach out to that segment of the Congress and American voter. In the Democratic response to the speech (broadcast on cable channels) Senator Dick Durbin spent most of his time criticizing use of the overburdened national guard to help in guarding the borders. He then agreed with the president on the need for comprehensive immigration reform and rightly pointed to the conservative wing of the Republicans as the segment that will need to be brought around. It will take a massive use of what political capital the President has left to bring his own party around. However, this may be his last chance to leave a positive legacy for his administration.


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