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Senate Defeats Guest Worker Repeal

The Dorgan/Boxer Amendment which would have repealed the guest worker program, was defeated 31-64 -- a win for the Republicans, who sided with business interests who want the low-cost labor that the guest worker program will provide.The repeal met with an unusual opponent, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA).

"This might not be the program that I like but it is the program that's in there," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass, the key Democratic negotiator of the bipartisan deal. And Kennedy got quite emotional as he loudly talked about the need for the worker protections that have been included in this year's version of the guest worker program.

Each year, Kennedy said, undocumented workers are injured on the job but don't report it for fear they will be deported. "That is what we are attempting to eliminate," he said.

Diane Feinstein, (D-CA) was among the key Democrats who joined with Kennedy in trying to hold the bill intact.

As a member of the coalition that framed this measure, Feinstein has taken the group pledge not to support any amendment that would undo any of the major elements on the bill.

Feinstein said she plans to vote for Sen. Jeff Bingaman's amendment to cut in half the number of workers but she opposed the Dorgan-Boxer amendment.


"Amnesty is the absolute forgiveness for a transgression. This bill is not amnesty,'' she said, proceeding to a description of all the hurdles an illegal immigrant would have to overcome in order to get the new Z visa which would allow them to live and work legally in the United States.

Feinstein's explanation is dismissed by those lawmakers who say the bill does forgive wrongdoing. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., plans to introduce an amendment soon that would eliminate the legalization plan.

More here.

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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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