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  • Senate GOP Deal on Immigration Bill Likely

    Wide Bipartisan Support Would Break Logjam


    Senate Republicans reached agreement last night on a compromise immigration measure that they believe will garner enough bipartisan support to break through a parliamentary impasse that has stymied progress on a high-stakes border security bill for two weeks.

    Under the agreement, the Senate would allow undocumented workers a path to lawful employment and citizenship if they could prove -- through work stubs, utility bills or other documents -- that they have been in the country for five years. To attain citizenship, those immigrants would have to pay a $2,000 penalty, back taxes, learn English, undergo a criminal background check and remain working for 11 years.

    Those who have been here a shorter time would have to return to one of 16 designated ports of entry, such as El Paso, Tex., and apply for a new form of temporary work visa for low-skilled and unskilled workers. An additional provision still under consideration would disqualify illegal immigrants who have been in the country less than two years.

    In a surprise move last night, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) went to the Senate floor with a parliamentary motion to send the compromise to the Senate Judiciary Committee for ratification, then scheduled a vote for tomorrow to cut off debate on that motion.

    A final breakthrough was held back yesterday by Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), who insisted that any substantive compromise wait until a showdown vote to cut off debate on a more lenient measure passed by the Judiciary Committee last week. Reid and other Democratic leaders hope to show they have 60 votes in support of that bill, written by Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). That showdown should come this morning, and if they can break a possible filibuster, they could show no compromise is needed that would fundamentally change the McCain-Kennedy bill.

    As of last night, however, the vote to break a filibuster appeared almost certain to fall short of the 60 supporters needed -- in large part because of the bruised Republican feelings over Reid's parliamentary tactics that have tied up the Senate for days. Even McCain said he would not bow to the Democrats' tactics and vote to end debate.

    That would open the door to the new compromise, co-written by Sens. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.). But Senate Democrats last night said they had not seen the compromise, much less approved it.

    "We don't even know what's in it," said Reid spokesman James Patrick Manley.

    If the compromise fails, the Senate will leave Washington this weekend for a two-week spring recess and nothing to show for a fortnight of heated debate. That would allow organizers of a national protest Monday against a crackdown on illegal immigration to build pressure on lawmakers to support the McCain-Kennedy measure, which would allow virtually all illegal immigrants, no matter how long they have been in the United States, to stay and work toward citizenship.

    "If we don't get something worked out by sunrise, then the Senate Democrats are going to be cut out," warned Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), voicing the frustration of a GOP majority that has been outflanked by the Democratic leadership.

    "This whole thing hinges on Reid. He is the fulcrum on whether anything happens," said Don Stewart, spokesman for Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.).

    That was a remarkable turn of events for a Republican Congress much more accustomed to steamrolling the Democratic minority. In an extraordinary showdown yesterday, Frist assembled most of the 55 Republicans in the Senate chamber to castigate Reid's intransigence.

    "I used to say this is another insufferable attempt of the other side to block, to obstruct, to postpone, to delay, but now I think it's beyond that,'" Frist protested.

    Facing one side of the chamber full of Republican senators, Reid stood virtually alone, responding, "The majority can move forward with a bill that will fix our borders and reform our immigration system or continue to stonewall this. It's in the eyes of the beholder who's stonewalling."

    There is virtual unanimity in the Senate that the immigration system is broken. Of the several immigration bills that have been drafted, all would beef up border patrol with more agents and higher technology, strengthen rules against employing illegal immigrants and penalties for businesses that violate those rules, and create tamper-proof identification cards to replace easily forged Social Security cards and other documents used to get jobs.

    But senators have splintered on what to do with immigrants already in this country. One approach, championed by Cornyn and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), would demand that all undocumented workers return home and apply for a new two-year temporary work visa. Such visas could be renewed for a total of six work years, but workers would have to return to their home countries for a year before reapplying.

    McCain maintains that approach is unrealistic, arguing that illegal immigrants would ignore the new visas and remain underground.

    Other senators, including conservative Republican Johnny Isakson (Ga.) and moderate Democrat Ben Nelson (Neb.), favor the approach taken by the House in December, when it passed a bill that cracked down on illegal immigration without offering any new avenue for lawful employment or citizenship. A handful of Democrats, led by Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (N.D.), resolutely oppose the provision in the McCain-Kennedy bill that would offer about 400,000 work visas a year to low-skilled foreigners seeking access to a U.S. workplace.

    In the middle of the factions is President Bush, who for years has called for major changes in immigration laws, including a guest-worker program, but to many members of Congress has been maddeningly vague about just what he wants.

    Yesterday, Bush demanded "a bill that will help us secure our borders, a bill that will cause the people in the interior of this country to recognize and enforce the law, and a bill that will include a guest-worker provision that will enable us to more secure the border, will recognize that there are people here working hard for jobs Americans won't do, and a guest-worker provision that is not amnesty, one that provides for automatic citizenship."

  • #2
    Wide Bipartisan Support Would Break Logjam


    Senate Republicans reached agreement last night on a compromise immigration measure that they believe will garner enough bipartisan support to break through a parliamentary impasse that has stymied progress on a high-stakes border security bill for two weeks.

    Under the agreement, the Senate would allow undocumented workers a path to lawful employment and citizenship if they could prove -- through work stubs, utility bills or other documents -- that they have been in the country for five years. To attain citizenship, those immigrants would have to pay a $2,000 penalty, back taxes, learn English, undergo a criminal background check and remain working for 11 years.

    Those who have been here a shorter time would have to return to one of 16 designated ports of entry, such as El Paso, Tex., and apply for a new form of temporary work visa for low-skilled and unskilled workers. An additional provision still under consideration would disqualify illegal immigrants who have been in the country less than two years.

    In a surprise move last night, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) went to the Senate floor with a parliamentary motion to send the compromise to the Senate Judiciary Committee for ratification, then scheduled a vote for tomorrow to cut off debate on that motion.

    A final breakthrough was held back yesterday by Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), who insisted that any substantive compromise wait until a showdown vote to cut off debate on a more lenient measure passed by the Judiciary Committee last week. Reid and other Democratic leaders hope to show they have 60 votes in support of that bill, written by Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). That showdown should come this morning, and if they can break a possible filibuster, they could show no compromise is needed that would fundamentally change the McCain-Kennedy bill.

    As of last night, however, the vote to break a filibuster appeared almost certain to fall short of the 60 supporters needed -- in large part because of the bruised Republican feelings over Reid's parliamentary tactics that have tied up the Senate for days. Even McCain said he would not bow to the Democrats' tactics and vote to end debate.

    That would open the door to the new compromise, co-written by Sens. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.). But Senate Democrats last night said they had not seen the compromise, much less approved it.

    "We don't even know what's in it," said Reid spokesman James Patrick Manley.

    If the compromise fails, the Senate will leave Washington this weekend for a two-week spring recess and nothing to show for a fortnight of heated debate. That would allow organizers of a national protest Monday against a crackdown on illegal immigration to build pressure on lawmakers to support the McCain-Kennedy measure, which would allow virtually all illegal immigrants, no matter how long they have been in the United States, to stay and work toward citizenship.

    "If we don't get something worked out by sunrise, then the Senate Democrats are going to be cut out," warned Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), voicing the frustration of a GOP majority that has been outflanked by the Democratic leadership.

    "This whole thing hinges on Reid. He is the fulcrum on whether anything happens," said Don Stewart, spokesman for Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.).

    That was a remarkable turn of events for a Republican Congress much more accustomed to steamrolling the Democratic minority. In an extraordinary showdown yesterday, Frist assembled most of the 55 Republicans in the Senate chamber to castigate Reid's intransigence.

    "I used to say this is another insufferable attempt of the other side to block, to obstruct, to postpone, to delay, but now I think it's beyond that,'" Frist protested.

    Facing one side of the chamber full of Republican senators, Reid stood virtually alone, responding, "The majority can move forward with a bill that will fix our borders and reform our immigration system or continue to stonewall this. It's in the eyes of the beholder who's stonewalling."

    There is virtual unanimity in the Senate that the immigration system is broken. Of the several immigration bills that have been drafted, all would beef up border patrol with more agents and higher technology, strengthen rules against employing illegal immigrants and penalties for businesses that violate those rules, and create tamper-proof identification cards to replace easily forged Social Security cards and other documents used to get jobs.

    But senators have splintered on what to do with immigrants already in this country. One approach, championed by Cornyn and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), would demand that all undocumented workers return home and apply for a new two-year temporary work visa. Such visas could be renewed for a total of six work years, but workers would have to return to their home countries for a year before reapplying.

    McCain maintains that approach is unrealistic, arguing that illegal immigrants would ignore the new visas and remain underground.

    Other senators, including conservative Republican Johnny Isakson (Ga.) and moderate Democrat Ben Nelson (Neb.), favor the approach taken by the House in December, when it passed a bill that cracked down on illegal immigration without offering any new avenue for lawful employment or citizenship. A handful of Democrats, led by Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (N.D.), resolutely oppose the provision in the McCain-Kennedy bill that would offer about 400,000 work visas a year to low-skilled foreigners seeking access to a U.S. workplace.

    In the middle of the factions is President Bush, who for years has called for major changes in immigration laws, including a guest-worker program, but to many members of Congress has been maddeningly vague about just what he wants.

    Yesterday, Bush demanded "a bill that will help us secure our borders, a bill that will cause the people in the interior of this country to recognize and enforce the law, and a bill that will include a guest-worker provision that will enable us to more secure the border, will recognize that there are people here working hard for jobs Americans won't do, and a guest-worker provision that is not amnesty, one that provides for automatic citizenship."

    Comment


    • #3
      Republicans have new plan for immigration



      CAPITOL HILL Many illegal aliens could get legal status and eventually citizenship under a revised immigration bill unveiled tonight by Senate Republicans.

      An estimated eleven (m) million people would be affected.

      Republican officials say their plan would divide illegal immigrants into three categories.

      Those who had been in the country the longest, more than five years, would not be required to return to their home country before gaining legal status.

      Illegal immigrants in the United States less than five years but more than two would be required to go to a border point of entry, briefly leave and then be readmitted to the United States.

      But illegal immigrants in the United States less than two years would be required to leave the country and join any other foreign residents seeking legal entry.

      Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid says he'll review the G-O-P proposal to see whether it's something he could support.

      Comment


      • #4
        April the Fool.

        Comment


        • #5
          Vote on it!

          GOP senators offer immigration plan
          Bush says he wants guest-worker plan without amnesty

          Wednesday, April 5, 2006; Posted: 11:35 p.m. EDT (03:35 GMT)

          President Bush said Wednesday that his guest-worker immigration provision is not an amnesty plan.
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          Senate
          GOP
          George W. Bush
          John McCain
          or Create Your Own
          Manage Alerts | What Is This? WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In an effort to break an impasse on a pending immigration bill, Senate Republicans offered a proposal Wednesday that would allow many illegal immigrants now in the United States to eventually gain legal status.

          The measure, sponsored by Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Mel Martinez of Florida, is expected to come to the Senate floor for a vote Friday.

          It was unveiled on the Senate floor Wednesday night by Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican.

          The Hagel-Martinez plan would be substituted for a proposal now on the floor that would allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country and work toward legal status by paying $2,000 in fines, working for six years, learning English, undergoing a background check and paying any back taxes they owe.

          The earlier version was included in a bill passed last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee and originally proposed by Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, and Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat.

          Critics of the legalization process insist it is tantamount to giving "amnesty" to illegal immigrants. Supporters call it "earned citizenship."

          While the McCain-Kennedy plan would apply equally to all immigrants who arrived in the United States before January 2004, the Hagel-Martinez proposal would make people who arrived between January 2001 and January 2004 climb steeper hurdles to obtain legal status.

          Neither plan offers legalization to immigrants who have entered the country illegally since January 2004.

          The estimated 3 million illegal immigrants who have been in the country two to five years would have to go to one of 16 designated points of entry within the next three years and apply to stay legally as a temporary worker. But they would be given no guarantee of getting permanent residency or citizenship.

          Senate Democrats have pushed for a procedural vote Thursday morning to limit debate on the pending immigration bill, with the McCain-Kennedy language, and move to a vote. While most of the Democrats support the proposal, many Republicans do not.

          Finger-pointing
          On the Senate floor Wednesday night, Frist said he expected the Democrats' procedural motion -- which needs 60 votes to pass -- to fail, clearing the way for the Senate to consider the Hagel-Martinez amendment Friday.

          Frist aides expressed confidence it could garner enough votes to pass, especially if the McCain-Kennedy plan fails to clear Thursday's procedural hurdle and senators eager to pass an immigration overhaul see little alternative.

          Democrats have been involved in negotiations over the Hagel-Martinez plan but have not committed to supporting it.

          The Senate had appeared deadlocked earlier Wednesday, with the Democratic and Republican leaders sparring over which party was preventing progress on the issue.

          GOP senators expressed frustration at Democratic efforts to block consideration of amendments until after the cloture vote.

          Their comments came amid intense behind-the-scenes negotiations in an attempt to reach an agreement that would garner 60 votes -- and amid heated election-year debate over procedure on the Senate floor.

          "I haven't seen an issue in recent years that has so much emotion associated with it," McCain told the Senate.

          Before the Hagel-Martinez proposal, McCain said that a bipartisan group of senators negotiating on a compromise was "close" to an agreement and that he thinks the result "would have 60 votes in this body."

          Bush calls for action
          President Bush on Wednesday morning urged senators to "come to a conclusion as quickly as possible" on an immigration bill that includes "a guest-worker provision that is not amnesty."

          The president called for "a comprehensive bill, a bill that will help us secure our borders, a bill that will cause the people in the interior of this country to recognize and enforce the law, and a bill that will include a guest-worker provision that will enable us to more secure the border, will recognize that there are people here working hard for jobs Americans won't do."

          Bush's brief remarks echoed a White House statement on Tuesday that told lawmakers that the administration "firmly opposes amnesty" for illegal immigrants and wants Congress to pass legislation that "does not create an automatic path to permanent residency or citizenship" for them.

          However, Tuesday's formal statement of administration policy does not repudiate the Judiciary Committee bill's legalization process.

          Any legislation that survives in the Senate will set up a legislative confrontation with the House, where anti-immigration sentiment is stronger. A House bill passed in December contains neither a guest-worker provision nor a legalization process.

          But Speaker Dennis Hastert on Wednesday said he might support a worker program if the Senate adds it to the bill.

          "I haven't ruled anything out because we have to have the dialogue with the Senate," the Illinois Republican said.

          "There are some sectors of our economy that want to have a guest-worker program. You have to take that into consideration. But that's part of this dialogue. We'll wait to see what the Senate passes," Hastert said.

          In California, meanwhile, Cardinal Roger Mahony, who opposes strict anti-immigration policies, declared Wednesday a day of prayer and fasting for "humane immigration legislation."

          "This is a unique opportunity, and God help us if we let it pass without enacting good, sound and just immigration reform," the archbishop of Los Angeles said during a special Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

          Comment


          • #6
            Vote on it!

            GOP senators offer immigration plan
            Bush says he wants guest-worker plan without amnesty

            Wednesday, April 5, 2006; Posted: 11:35 p.m. EDT (03:35 GMT)

            President Bush said Wednesday that his guest-worker immigration provision is not an amnesty plan.



            Senate
            GOP
            George W. Bush
            John McCain
            - In an effort to break an impasse on a pending immigration bill, Senate Republicans offered a proposal Wednesday that would allow many illegal immigrants now in the United States to eventually gain legal status.

            The measure, sponsored by Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Mel Martinez of Florida, is expected to come to the Senate floor for a vote Friday.

            It was unveiled on the Senate floor Wednesday night by Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican.

            The Hagel-Martinez plan would be substituted for a proposal now on the floor that would allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country and work toward legal status by paying $2,000 in fines, working for six years, learning English, undergoing a background check and paying any back taxes they owe.

            The earlier version was included in a bill passed last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee and originally proposed by Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, and Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat.

            Critics of the legalization process insist it is tantamount to giving "amnesty" to illegal immigrants. Supporters call it "earned citizenship."

            While the McCain-Kennedy plan would apply equally to all immigrants who arrived in the United States before January 2004, the Hagel-Martinez proposal would make people who arrived between January 2001 and January 2004 climb steeper hurdles to obtain legal status.

            Neither plan offers legalization to immigrants who have entered the country illegally since January 2004.

            The estimated 3 million illegal immigrants who have been in the country two to five years would have to go to one of 16 designated points of entry within the next three years and apply to stay legally as a temporary worker. But they would be given no guarantee of getting permanent residency or citizenship.

            Senate Democrats have pushed for a procedural vote Thursday morning to limit debate on the pending immigration bill, with the McCain-Kennedy language, and move to a vote. While most of the Democrats support the proposal, many Republicans do not.

            Finger-pointing
            On the Senate floor Wednesday night, Frist said he expected the Democrats' procedural motion -- which needs 60 votes to pass -- to fail, clearing the way for the Senate to consider the Hagel-Martinez amendment Friday.

            Frist aides expressed confidence it could garner enough votes to pass, especially if the McCain-Kennedy plan fails to clear Thursday's procedural hurdle and senators eager to pass an immigration overhaul see little alternative.

            Democrats have been involved in negotiations over the Hagel-Martinez plan but have not committed to supporting it.

            The Senate had appeared deadlocked earlier Wednesday, with the Democratic and Republican leaders sparring over which party was preventing progress on the issue.

            GOP senators expressed frustration at Democratic efforts to block consideration of amendments until after the cloture vote.

            Their comments came amid intense behind-the-scenes negotiations in an attempt to reach an agreement that would garner 60 votes -- and amid heated election-year debate over procedure on the Senate floor.

            "I haven't seen an issue in recent years that has so much emotion associated with it," McCain told the Senate.

            Before the Hagel-Martinez proposal, McCain said that a bipartisan group of senators negotiating on a compromise was "close" to an agreement and that he thinks the result "would have 60 votes in this body."

            Bush calls for action
            President Bush on Wednesday morning urged senators to "come to a conclusion as quickly as possible" on an immigration bill that includes "a guest-worker provision that is not amnesty."

            The president called for "a comprehensive bill, a bill that will help us secure our borders, a bill that will cause the people in the interior of this country to recognize and enforce the law, and a bill that will include a guest-worker provision that will enable us to more secure the border, will recognize that there are people here working hard for jobs Americans won't do."

            Bush's brief remarks echoed a White House statement on Tuesday that told lawmakers that the administration "firmly opposes amnesty" for illegal immigrants and wants Congress to pass legislation that "does not create an automatic path to permanent residency or citizenship" for them.

            However, Tuesday's formal statement of administration policy does not repudiate the Judiciary Committee bill's legalization process.

            Any legislation that survives in the Senate will set up a legislative confrontation with the House, where anti-immigration sentiment is stronger. A House bill passed in December contains neither a guest-worker provision nor a legalization process.

            But Speaker Dennis Hastert on Wednesday said he might support a worker program if the Senate adds it to the bill.

            "I haven't ruled anything out because we have to have the dialogue with the Senate," the Illinois Republican said.

            "There are some sectors of our economy that want to have a guest-worker program. You have to take that into consideration. But that's part of this dialogue. We'll wait to see what the Senate passes," Hastert said.

            In California, meanwhile, Cardinal Roger Mahony, who opposes strict anti-immigration policies, declared Wednesday a day of prayer and fasting for "humane immigration legislation."

            "This is a unique opportunity, and God help us if we let it pass without enacting good, sound and just immigration reform," the archbishop of Los Angeles said during a special Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

            Comment


            • #7
              I can just see the dissension among illegal aliens. Those here less than five years are being told they have to leave, either immediately or within 6 years, while those here more than five years cannot only stay, but are guaranteed a track to citizenship.

              I wonder which of them are going to be willing to sign on to this deal?! Maria would probably jump on it, but will the marchers planning the protest in DC support it? If you've been here less than 5 years, would you? Particularly if the government is better this time around at verifying employment and presence than it was in 1986, when so many people committed fraud.

              And of course, whatever they do, they'd better have strict enforcement, or this becomes no "solution" at all.

              Comment


              • #8

                Comment

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