Thursday, May 24, 2007

Immigration update, part II

A series of amendments to bring sanity into the current immigration bill were brought before the U.S. Senate today. Montana's Senators continued their unbroken track record of voting to support American workers and legal immigrants, and of voting for enforcing existing laws.

While the three amendments of substance were defeated, some of these votes are getting closer, probably because more Senators are starting to hear from their constituents. The reasons become clearer, if one still wonders why Sens. Kennedy and McCain, joined by President Bush wanted to ram this bill through without debate and without the text being available for review -- based solely on a back-room deal.

A core group has emerged, Democratic Senators Dorgan (ND,) Tester and Baucus (MT,) and Byrd (WV,) joined by Republican Senators Coburn (OK,) and Vitter (LA) -- this group has voted consistently to kill bad provisions, add good ones, and kill the entire bill (anticipating that the final "deal" will be a bad one for America.)

In addition, a larger group of both Democrats and Republicans are increasingly voting with that core of 5 Senators.

Today's action:

The Akaka amendment to exclude children of certain Filipino WWII veterans from numerical limits on visas was overwhelmingly approved. There is a long and venerable history of Filipinos serving in the US Armed Services -- especially in the US Navy, and such special provision makes sense.

Sen. Norm Coleman, R-MN, had an amendment to facilitate sharing information between various federal and local governments regarding an individual's immigrant status. We have had a chronic problem of state and local governments refusing to cooperate with federal authorities for various reasons, and this needs to stop -- immigration is not under the authority of state and local governments. Unfortunately, the amendment failed 48-49, with mostly Republican support and 9 Democratic votes. Sens. Baucus and Tester voted for the amendment.

Sen. Dorgan, D-ND, made another valiant effort to limit the guest worker program by submitting an amendment that would sunset the program (already cut back to 200,000 permits thanks to the Bingaman amendment) after 5 years. This more than reasonable amendment failed 48-49, this time with mostly Democratic support, joined by 9 Republicans -- a mirror image of the Coleman amendment results. Sens. Baucus and Tester voted for the amendment.

Sen. Vitter's amendment that would have dramatically restricted the amnesty provisions of the immigration bill failed 29-66. Senate Republicans contributed 20 votes for the amendment, while 9 Democrats voted for the amendment -- including Sens. Baucus and Tester.

Stay tuned.

No comments: