Skip to comments.Senate `Killer' Amendments Threaten Immigration Plan
Posted on 06/23/2007 6:54:12 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Procedural snares and ``killer'' amendments threaten to disrupt the fragile coalition in the Senate that's holding together the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration policy since 1986.
Supporters are scrambling to address the legislative obstacles before debate resumes next week. Opponents plan to try to derail the legislation by using procedural delays and offering poison-pill amendments that may split the coalition that sustains the measure.
Passage of the legislation would give 12 million undocumented immigrants a chance at legal status while handing President George W. Bush a victory on his top domestic priority.
``This is a delicate balance. The wheels could come off,'' said Mississippi Senator Trent Lott, the Senate's No. 2 Republican.
To get the measure back on the Senate's agenda after it was temporarily shelved earlier this month, lawmakers agreed to hold votes on two dozen amendments proposed by both Republicans and Democrats. The list includes some amendments whose passage might doom the legislation.
``It won't take much for this to come crashing down,'' said Frank Sharry, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, a Washington group that backs the legislation. ``Every day we wake up trying to figure out how we're going to navigate.''
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that one amendment would gut the system for companies to verify that employees are legally eligible to work in the U.S. Another proposal would alter a program to give preference to immigrants with job skills, which Republicans demanded.
The outcome will depend on whether the bill's backers can allow some amendments to be adopted, while rejecting those that would split the bipartisan group that has kept the measure alive.
Republican drafters of the legislation will also seek to add tougher enforcement measures to address concerns the plan won't stem illegal immigration, Arizona Senator Jon Kyl told reporters today.
``I understand the criticism of people who think we haven't been serious about enforcing the law,'' said Kyl, the chief Republican sponsor. ``We need to respond to that.''
The tougher measures would include detention of foreign students and tourists who overstay visas. In addition, a requirement that undocumented aliens return to their home country before applying for citizenship would be expanded to include anyone seeking permanent legal status.
Kyl said the Republican-drafted amendment will have the support of Democrats in the bipartisan group that wrote the legislation. A spokeswoman for Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the chief Democratic negotiator, didn't immediately return a request for comment.
With more than 20 amendments, the outcome is too uncertain to predict, said Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat. ``If there are amendments offensive to Democratic senators, we won't produce'' enough votes to conclude debate, he said. ``If there are amendments offensive the other way, you can imagine the result.''
Sharry said he regards many of the other amendments still being drafted as ``deal killers.''
One proposal, by Iowa Republican Charles Grassley and Democrats Max Baucus of Montana and Barack Obama of Illinois, would eliminate the requirement that employers verify the legal status of every worker in order to detect employees who are undocumented immigrants.
`Onerous and Unnecessary'
In a June 20 reply to Chertoff, the three lawmakers called the provision mandating the verification of current workers an ``onerous and unnecessary requirement'' on employers.
Under the amendment, current employees would only undergo checks if the Social Security number on their pay stub didn't match the one assigned to their name or was used by multiple people.
The amendment also would ease identification requirements for U.S. citizens and lawful residents to get jobs. And it would prohibit the sharing of citizens' tax information and Social Security data with immigration authorities after five years.
In a June 19 letter urging its rejection, Chertoff warned that the amendment ``eliminates needed tools'' to enforce the law and would ``continue a flourishing market for fake documents and identity fraud.''
South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, a Republican supporter of the immigration overhaul, said he is concerned that the amendment would render the legislation's enforcement mechanism unworkable.
``If you want employer verification that works, it's incumbent to have tamper-proof ID,'' Graham said.
Another amendment, proposed by Missouri Republican Christopher Bond, would prohibit the 12 million people in the U.S. illegally to ever seek U.S. citizenship. Some supporters say the plan threatens a core principle of the legislation.
Colorado Democrat Ken Salazar, said Bond's plan ``would probably be a deal killer.''
Bill supporters had managed to defeat other poison pill amendments, such as one that would have ended the chance for undocumented workers to get legal status.
An amendment by New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez that would change the point system under which applicants for immigration are to be evaluated ``would be a material change'' to a carefully crafted provision in the bill, said Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter.
Supporters of the overhaul will probably be able to defeat the amendment, Specter said.
Immigration-advocacy groups that oppose the new point system call it a radical shift from a policy that has allowed the migration of families to a merit-based system based on job skills and educational achievement.
Menendez's proposal would award points for siblings and adult children of legalized immigrants and naturalized citizens who want to come to the U.S. This would include relatives of the estimated 833,000 people who applied for immigrant visas since May 1, 2005.
Kyl said today the Menendez amendment would ``substantially upset the rather delicately balanced merit-based point system.''
Menendez disagreed, telling reporters that his amendment would only provide ``a fighting chance to a family member who had other skill sets.''
Kill it Kill it Kill it! Get a stick and Kill it!
We need to knock the wheels off this stupid bill. I am fed up with all those slugs on the hill.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus
Just say NO to Illegal Alien Amnesty!! Keep calling!! Its NOT OVER!!
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Die, die, die, you bastard bill.
This thing needs a barf alert.
Heavens to murgatroid!
“Sweeping overhaul” my ass. The only sweeping the Senate is doing is under the rug.
Way to go Kit(Bond).
Hooray for Senator Bond!!
Selling out our country to please a president is not an option!!!
The best time to kill a snake is when you’ve got a ho in your hand.
Kill it, then kill it some more.
I called my two yesterday, and called my MIL to have her do the same with Mitch McConnell.
We dont need an Amnesty bill.
Welcome to KillBill 3
(Robert) Menendez disagreed, telling reporters that his amendment would only provide ``a fighting chance to a family member who had other skill sets.''
You mean like this Bob... Éstos son grandes habilidades, señor y muy necesarios en América.
Sí, mi tía Maria cocina el tacos maravilloso. Y mi tío Paco puede robar un automóvil en cinco minutos.
Éstos son grandes habilidades, señor y muy necesarios en América.
Sorry Senator. No sale on 'other skill sets'.
Remember, Trent Lotts says they’ll strip any enforcement initiatives and other unwanted amendments in the committee process. It’s all lies and a dog and pony show. If this thing gets approved, it’ll get massaged right back to exactly what they initially offered in the “grand compromise”.
Yup, at least the man is out there trying.
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