Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Blue Dogs taking on immigration -- SECURITY FIRST -- and AP leaks some amendments

Two things that are directly connected. First, Nancy Pelosi's woes just began as the Blue Dogs are poised to take up the "security first" details of immigration reform:

House Democrats say they may break the immigration issue up into a series of smaller bills that would put off the tougher parts and allow others to pass, such as border security, and high-tech and agriculture worker programs that have clear support.

That could buy Democrats more time to work out the tougher aspects of immigration, such as what to do about the estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens now here, but it would go against the Senate's massive catchall approach and contradicts President Bush's call for a broad bill to pass.
"There is active, serious discussion in that regard," said Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, Florida Democrat, who said Democratic leaders tossed the idea around at a recent meeting. "The idea is out there, and there is listening going on by the leadership in regards to immigration on trying to come up with something that is doable, sensible and plausible to the American people."

Both Democrats and Republicans in the House say no decisions have been made and both sides are waiting to see what happens in the Senate's off-again-on-again immigration debate.

In the Senate, Democrats took the first step to revive the debate yesterday, introducing a new bill that compiles all of the Senate's action over the past few weeks. The move is designed to overcome some of the procedural hurdles opponents are expected to erect.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, says he is committed to getting a "comprehensive" bill done before releasing the Senate for its Fourth of July vacation, and he has the support of top Republican leaders.

In the House, though, Republicans are more uniformly opposed, and many vulnerable freshman Democrats could be hurt by a bill labeled "amnesty." That leaves Democratic leaders trying to see what they can pass.

"We are looking for ways we can find some levels of comfort within our caucus and there is some sentiment to do something irrespective of what the Senate does, but we are still looking at it," said Rep. James E. Clyburn, South Carolina Democrat and majority whip in the House.

We put the warnings out there about this, and no one seemed to listen. Worse, most people thought we were nuts when we said that the Blue Dogs could be appealed to on the immigration issue. That's because they're hearing from their constituency, and those people aren't happy. The Blue Dogs realize they could be out of a job if they don't assume the mantle of the adults int he party, and focus on what the people are screaming for, which is enforcement and security.

This is John Boehner's "caucus" in the House that he can draw to his side to kill the immigration bill if it passes the Senate, and he doesn't blue-slip it. They're going to split it into security and regularization. That's the approach that we have been pushing, and it's a good thing that the Blue Dogs are going to take Nancy out at the knees on this one.

But that's not the biggest story today ont he bill. No, the AP has obtained a leaked report regarding 16 of the proposed amendments:

Sixteen of the two dozen amendments the Senate will consider attaching to a revived immigration bill come from senators who helped derail the legislation earlier this month.

A list of the proposed changes obtained by The Associated Press illustrates how key Republicans and Democrats plotting to revive the measure before the Fourth of July recess are trying to placate critics by holding votes to address their top concerns.

The proposals range from bids to make it more difficult for illegal immigrants to gain legal status to attempts to give family members of U.S. citizens more opportunities to immigrate.

The bipartisan coalition that crafted the deal is keeping the still- tentative list under tight wraps as they scramble to fine-tune it with an eye toward attracting the widest possible swath of converts to the bill. The measure, which would grant as many as 12 million illegal immigrants lawful status while tightening border security, stalled on June 7 when just 45 senators voted to end debate and move to a final vote—well short of the 60 whose backing was needed.

The package of changes was described by three congressional aides close to the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the list is confidential and subject to change.

Under the plan, Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., would get a vote on his plan to bar illegal immigrants from getting green cards. Democratic Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia would see consideration of his amendment to limit legalization to certain unlawful immigrants who have been in the U.S. four years or more.

Both voted "no" during the test-vote that blocked the bill's progress.

Also making the list is an amendment by Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., that would bar illegal immigrants from collecting Social Security benefits for work done while they were in the U.S. unlawfully.

Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, one of only 11 Democrats who voted against expediting final action on the bill, would get a vote on her amendment to reduce the number of temporary workers admitted to the U.S. based on how many guest laborers overstayed their visas.

Democrats already succeeded in revising the bill to lower the cap from as many as 600,000 per year to 200,000.

There's no guarantee that such proposals would pass—nor have any of their sponsors said publicly that they would back advancing the bill if they had a chance to air their amendments. But Senate leaders in both parties believe the list will produce the 60 votes needed to reopen debate on the measure and get it to a final vote.

One senior aide close to the discussions predicted that as many as 24 Republicans would back moving ahead with the bill under the scenario envisioned—compared with just seven GOP senators who did so previously.

Also in the package, as currently drafted, are:

-- An amendment by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, to mandate that all illegal immigrants return home within two years to gain lawful status. The bill only requires those seeking green cards to do so.

-- A proposal by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., to increase the number of points under a new merit-based green card allocation system that could be awarded for being related to a U.S. citizen or green card holder.

-- An amendment by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., to condition any legal status for unlawful immigrants on the measure's border security and workplace enforcement measures. The bill would instead allow such immigrants to get probationary legal status while those so-called "triggers" were being met.

-- A proposal by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., to increase penalties on employers who repeatedly hire illegal immigrants.

-- An amendment by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, to replace the employment verification system with a less-burdensome alternative.

-- An amendment by Montana's Democratic Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, who opposed moving to a final vote on the bill, to remove requirements that workers present "REAL ID" driver's license to prospective employers.

-- An amendment by Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., to let law enforcement agencies share information about people's immigration status.

-- An amendment by Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, the sole Independent to oppose the June 7 test vote, to bar companies that have had mass layoffs from hiring foreign high-tech workers.

These are a little better in helping this bill, but we're still missing a few key points that aren't addressed:

-- Where's the fence? The fence should be built completely before one person is regularized, and the "virtual" fence should be in place.

-- The 601(h) Z-visa loopholes aren't closed, and until they are, this bill should be DOA.

-- Nothing in the amendments, nor the bill itself, define who will conduct the background checks on illegal aliens. Furthermore, there is nothing regarding the hiring of more people to conduct those checks. The current federal government can't handle the most basic operations they have to perform. What makes them think they can convince us they can catch criminals and terrorists here now?

-- The cap on those allowed in yearly is a joke, and won't be stemmed until the fence is constructed and the appropriate steps are taken to enforce the border. No one should be allowed in through this process, or any others, until the people here are regularized, and the border is reinforced.

After reading these amendments leaked (and we'd be remiss in not noting that these are preliminary amendments, and are subject to change) we're not impressed. It's a fifty-fifty split. They're not bad, but they hardly address the concerns of those opposed to the bill have. Count us among those people.

The Senate had better get this through their thick skulls very quickly. This issue is spinning out of control. If they think we're going to back down because they've offered these piece-meal solutions up, think again. Get on the phones -- 202-225-3121.

Publius II


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I note two things that shouted at me! One is Rep Alcee L. Hastings. No, not his being kicked off the Federal bench but Hillary naming him co-chair of her presidential campaign. Isn't that neat that she has an ear to the House. Secondly is Reid's use of the word "comprehensive" bill. Grant you, he's not the brightest but by now he should understand that means "amnesty." Rawriter.

June 19, 2007 at 10:18 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home