May 19, 2006

An Overview of Recent News & Opinions About Illegal Immigration Debate, Part IV

Recent days have been particularly active times in the illegal immigration debate. Since it is difficult to keep up with all that is going on, this is the fourth of five postings which will present excerpts from a range of news and opinion articles across the MSM and the blogging world.


Here is some information on the major activities in the U.S. Senate during the last week.

Senator Sessions Bill

Power Line reports on Senator Session's bill to build a fence on the border and identifies the 16 Democrats who voted against it. The full vote count is here.

The Washington Times has more.

Deborah Orin of the NY Post (H/T Power Line) adds these comments:

When the Senate voted by a stunning 83-16 in favor of a reinforced fence along the Mexico border yesterday, it showed that lawmakers are feeling get-tough winds blowing from the grass roots. Even 2008 presidential prospects like Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) voted for the 370-mile fence, and several Democrats who first voted no switched nervously to yes.

"Voters are very clear that they want the situation at the border addressed first," said independent pollster Scott Rasmussen, who's found huge enforcement-first majorities in 33 states he polled.

"The real debate isn't about what to do with the illegal aliens who are already here," Rasmussen said. "It's about what to do to keep more from coming here."

In The Price of a Fence, Michelle Malkin notes:

...The Senate voted to build 370 miles of triple-layered fencing along the Mexican border Wednesday and clashed over citizenship for millions of men and women who live in the United States illegally.

Amid increasingly emotional debate over election-year immigration legislation, senators voted 83-16 to add fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers along the southern border. It marked the first significant victory in two days for conservatives seeking to place their stamp on the contentious measure.

But if the price of the fence is this...

The prospects were less favorable for their attempt to strip out portions of the legislation that could allow citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants and create new guest worker programs. it worth it? And given past history and yesterday's vote against enforcement first, you already know which provision--the amnesty, not the fence--is the Senate's top priority and which will be in place first.

Senator Vitter's Bill

In a separate bill, Breitbart reports: "[Senator] Vitter led the drive to strip from the bill a provision giving an eventual chance at citizenship to illegal immigrants who have been in the country more than two years. His attempt failed, 66-33, at the hands of a bipartisan coalition, and the provision survived. In all, 41 Democrats joined with 24 Republicans and one independent to turn back the proposal. Opponents included the leaders of both parties, Sens. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Harry Reid, D-Nev. Thirty-one Republicans and two Democrats supported Vitter's amendment."

Vote count is here.

Senator Cornyn Bill

Kathryn Jean Lopez has information on the Cornyn bill, which had this objective:

As currently written, the immigration bill pending before the Senate would allow unskilled temporary workers – 200,000 a year – to obtain permanent green cards regardless of whether U.S. workers are available to fill the jobs. The Cornyn amendment would fix that flaw in the pending bill.

[After an employer searches for an American citizen to fill the job,] [t]he Cornyn amendment would require [the company to apply to] the Department of Labor to certify that there is not a U.S. worker who is able, willing, qualified and available to fill the job that is [subsequently] offered to the foreign worker.

As a Washington Times article stated: "The purpose of the bill is to ensure the job market isn't flooded with foreign workers. Also, it prevents foreign workers from coming to the United States only to wind up unemployed and dependent on public assistance."

The vote count can be found here.

Senator Kennedy Bill

However, a subsequent Kennedy bill effectively gutted the Cornyn bill by allowing foreign workers to apply for permanent residency without first having a job, i.e., the foreign workers can apply for guest worker status on their own, even without having a job.

Senator Cornyn was quoted in the same Washington Times article as saying: "What that means is that up to 200,000 unskilled workers a year would become eligible for a green card, regardless of economic conditions, regardless of whether that worker has been actually employed for four years, and most importantly, regardless of whether there are unemployed U.S. workers available to fill those jobs."

Vote count is here.

Senator Isakson's Bill

Later, Malkin reports that The Senate Rejects Enforcement 1st, which notes:

The Senate defeated, 55 to 40, a proposal by Senator Johnny Isakson, Republican of Georgia, that lawmakers demand that border-security measures be in place before beginning a guest-worker program of the kind envisioned by President Bush.

The 55 senators rejected Mr. Isakson's argument that, if the Congress did not act now, it would have to a decade or so from now, and that "instead of 10 million or 12 million, it will be 24 million" illegal immigrants at issue.

The posting lists who voted for open borders. The vote count is here. The Washington Times has more.

Senator Ensign's Bill

Michelle Malkin also reports that the Senate has killed Senator Ensign's amendment. The Washington Times has more, including these words:

The Senate voted yesterday to allow illegal aliens to collect Social Security benefits based on past illegal employment -- even if the job was obtained through forged or stolen documents.

"There was a felony they were committing, and now they can't be prosecuted. That sounds like amnesty to me," said Sen. John Ensign, the Nevada Republican who offered the amendment yesterday to strip out those provisions of the immigration reform bill. "It just boggles the mind how people could be against this amendment."...

"It makes no sense to reward millions of illegal immigrants for criminal behavior while our Social Security system is already in crisis," said Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican. "Why in the world would we endorse this criminal activity with federal benefits? The Senate missed a big opportunity to improve this bill, and I doubt American seniors will be pleased with the result."...

Here is one blogger's description of the bill:

Should ILLEGAL immigrants, once made legal by the McCain legislation, be entitled to receive the Social Security benefits they have paid into the system while ILLEGALLY using FRAUDULENT Social Security numbers STOLEN from actual, legal citizens of the United States of America.

The fact that this is even up for debate is just beyond insane. Everyone knows we will never have enough Social Security funds to serve, you know, actual citizens.

Every single one of those senators knows that, and they're debating whether we should extend such non-existent, unsustainable, budget-busting, generation-saddling benefits to millions of people who fraudulently entered the system by stealing the identities (and sometimes ruining the credit) of legal Americans?!?

Sen. Ensign, God bless him, offered an amendment suggesting illegals should not be eligible for Social Security benefits accrued while illegal.

Power Line has more. Vote count is here.

Senator Inhofe's Bill

The Senate has passed the Inhofe Amendment whose statement of purpose is to "declare English as the national language of the United States and to promote the patriotic integration of prospective US citizens."

This amendment also makes English the default language for government communication and redesigns the naturalization exam. The newly designed naturalization exam would require the following citizenship test goals:
Demonstrating sufficient understanding of English for usage in everyday life; Understanding of common values; Understanding American history; Attachment to the Constitution Understanding the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

Power Line has more here. The vote count is here.

Senator Salazar's Bill

Subsequently, the Senate passed an amendment offered by Senator Salazar, which has these words as its statement of purpose: "To declare that English is the common and unifying language of the United States, and to preserve and enhance the role of the English language." Only time will tell whether that statement truly has any practical meaning and how it relates to the Inhofe amendment.

Vote count for the Salazar amendment is here.

Senator Kyl's Bill

The Senate has Senate voted to kill Kyl amendment , which "would have denied a chance for permanent status and eventual citizenship to illegal immigrants who have been in the country less than five years and to any future immigrants who enter the country under the guest-worker program. Opponents said the amendment...would have gutted the bipartisan bill that allows guest workers an opportunity to seek permanent residence." More information can be found here. The vote count is here.


The last Power Line posting references the state-by-state Rasmussen immigration poll, which shows "In every state surveyed except Massachusetts, at least 60% of respondents say we should 'enforce existing laws and control the border before considering new reforms.'"

MICKEY KAUS (H/T Instapundit)

Instapundit notes that Mickey Kaus has been posting up a storm, with a critique of Blankley's editorial, Deborah Orin, the Rasmussen poll, and a variety of other topics. Worth the read.


Stanley Kurtz critiques Kaus' comments:

Mickey Kaus has a sharp critique of Tony Blankley’s suggested immigration compromise over at Slate. Kaus’s points have to be taken seriously, but I’m not convinced. Kaus dismisses Blankley’s opposition to amnesty by saying that Blankley’s not actually proposing a compromise, but an unattainable Republican victory. Then Kaus says Republicans ought to kill amnesty now by sinking the whole bill. Kaus says we should wait to push an amnesty-free bill under the next president.

So Kaus thinks an amnesty-free bill is impossible now, but just might squeak through in a new administration. Pushing for an amnesty-free bill now, says Kaus, will yield a bogus partial amnesty, lawyered up with loopholes that amount to a conservative loss. Maybe so, but waiting to pass an amnesty-free bill under a new president sounds like pie-in-the-sky to me. Pro-amnesty Democrats and a split Republican Party are likely to recreate today’s political dynamic, whoever the next president is. That would mean a weakened Republican Party for some time. It also means that our likely choice will continue to be between a compromise bill and no bill at all.

If whatever compromise we get has liberal amnesty provisions, no bill at all is the way to go. But Kaus isn’t worried by the political consequences for Republicans of a failed bill. I am. (Or, who knows, maybe Kaus understands perfectly well how politically helpful to Republicans a successful compromise would be.) If Kaus is right that an amnesty-free, or nearly amnesty-free, bill turns out to be impossible, then let the House Republicans walk away at that point. But I think it’s in the Republicans’ interest to push for a compromise that the country would favor, whether it ultimately passes or not. I think the public would respond well to a Blankley-like formula. Let the Democrats take the blame for sinking the bill because they insist on strong amnesty provisions. If forced to choose between a very weak citizenship track and no bill at all, I’m betting the president would sign the bill...

Part V to follow...

For previous posting information, refer to Parts I, II, and III of this posting.