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Immigration Measure Faces Challenges Ahead

UPDATED AND BUMPED: The measure failed on a Senate vote for cloture, and appears to be dead in the water.

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The comprehensive immigration reform bill that has dodged attacks from the left and right for weeks, survived "poison pill" amendments, and was once pulled from the Senate schedule failed its most important test Thursday. Passage of the legislation now appears unlikely.

The bipartisan coalition that had shepherded the measure through so many obstacles failed to get the 60 votes necessary to end debate. The final vote was 46-53.

(original post begins here)

Immigration Measure Faces Challenges Ahead
Published: Jun 28, 07 09:02 AM

After coming back from the brink of the abyss for reconsideration and renewed debate, the Immigration bill is poised at the edge once again, as it faces a critical vote today. It survived many challenges on Wednesday, so there's still hope.

Attempts from the right and left to alter key elements of the delicate bipartisan compromise failed Wednesday, including a Republican proposal to deny illegal immigrants a path to citizenship and Democratic bids to reunite legal immigrants with family members.

The Senate killed, by a 56-41 vote, an amendment by Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., to provide more green cards for parents of U.S. citizens. By a 55-40 margin, it tabled a proposal by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., to give family members of citizens and legal permanent residents more credit toward green cards in a new merit-based points system.

A make-or-break procedural vote was set for Thursday, however, as the Senate plowed through amendments that supporters hoped would address waverers' concerns.

The Conservatives lost out again, so they're spittin' nails...

Facing determined opposition from conservatives who call the bill amnesty, leaders need 60 votes to keep the measure alive and complete it as early as Friday.

The Senate on Wednesday killed several proposals designed to answer conservatives' concerns that the bill, championed by President Bush, is overly lenient toward illegal immigrants. Among the amendments was one by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, to require all adult illegal immigrants to return home temporarily to qualify for permanent lawful status. The current bill requires only heads of household seeking permanent legal residency to return home to apply for green cards.

"I don't see how I could support this bill in any form,'' Hutchison said after the vote. She had characterized her proposal as a way of removing "the amnesty tag'' from the legislation.

An amendment by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., also defeated, would have restricted legal status applications to those who have been in the United States for four years. The bill would allow anyone in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2007, to be eligible.

A bid by Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., to deny green cards to unlawful immigrants also failed.

The bill, which also would toughen border security and institute a new system for weeding out illegal immigrants from workplaces, is facing more challenges.

Particularly worrisome to backers of the bill is an amendment by Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Max Baucus, D-Mont., to overhaul the employee verification system.

Grasping for more GOP support, Republican framers of the bill were proposing their own, less burdensome return-home requirement for illegal immigrants. It would apply only to heads of household and would give them three years.

Votes on key amendments were continuing Wednesday under a complex and carefully orchestrated procedure designed to overcome stalling tactics by conservative foes. It allowed votes only on a limited list of amendments before Thursday's critical test vote.

Tensions ran high on the usually courtly Senate floor, where Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was keeping a tight rein on the debate to prevent critics from derailing the bill.

Conservatives, irate at a process that has essentially stymied their ability to filibuster, said Senate leaders were trying to rush through a bad bill.

"The American people have said loud and clear that this is an incredibly important issue to them. For the Senate to move ahead anyway using this process, railroading me and other critics of the bill and blocking our rights as senators to represent our constituents, is disgraceful,'' said Sen. David Vitter, R-La.


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Comments (4)

superdestroyer:

The bill is in no danger because the fix has been in from the beginning. The grassroots efforts, the poll numbers are meaningless. The country club Republicans want cheap labor and the Democrats want more votes. That is all that matter and that is why it is going to pass.

Lee Ward:

I'm not so sure, SD. It looks pretty bleak for supporters of this measure at the moment. I say it fails by Friday if not sooner -- wanna bet?

Paul Hamilton:

SD, it seems you were wrong in your pessimism.

For me, the bottom line is simply respect for the law. Yes, we are a nation of immigrants. My ancestors on my dad's side arrived in the 1880s from Scotland. They followed the law and were accepted into American society.

The people sneaking across the border are ILLEGALS, not immigrants. Because of their legal status, they simply cannot meld into society and they are easy prey from day one, starting with the coyotes who often abandon them to die in locked tractor-trailers to the crooked employers who exploit them for slave wages.

And this hurts not only them but the people who have, for generations, made the effort to enter the country properly. Everyone's wages are depressed by the 12 million illegals. And having open borders in an age of terrorism has obvious dangers as well.

So we need to get the illegals out of this country. If we pay more for our lettuce, so be it. I can promise you that the increases in salaries which will result from the demand for American workers will more than balance the harm.

And then we need to form rational policies for immigration. There should be no racism or partisan politics in those policies, but we should only allow in the number of immigrants that the economy can sustain rather than flood the nation with legal immigrants and cause the same labor problems we have today.

We have a chance to begin anew and get it right this time. So maybe we should consider this an opportunity.

Lee Ward:

SuperDestroyer has been seriously depressed the last couple of weeks. Hopefully this news will cheer him up.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

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

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