Friday, June 29, 2007

Immigration Dead

They are reporting that immigration reform is dead until after the '08 election. Do you really want to wait until 2009 to begin the next attempt to resolve this issue? What's especially psychotic is the breakdown of the votes. The Senate is essentially equally divided if not tilted slightly in favor of the GOP when you count Sen. Bernie Sanders (Socialist from Vermont) among the Democrats and toss Joe "the Schmo" Lieberman in with the Republicans. With Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) sidelined since December with a brain hemorrhage, he does not vote and so the GOP benefits from a 50-49 advantage.

The immigration bill needed three fifths of the Senate (60 votes) to proceed. It didn't even get a simple majority (43 yea, 56 nay). This is being reported as a defeat for Bush, who supported gittin'er done with the immigration bill. He was joined by a majority of the Democrats however, including such stars as Clinton, Kennedy, Kerry, Obama and Oregon's own Ron Wyden. A majority of the Senate Republicans (including Gordon Smith, R-OR) however opposed the bill and they were joined by several significant Dems including the "Dean" of the Senate, Bob Byrd and rising star freshmen Jon Tester (D-MT) and Jim Webb (D-VA), not to mention the Socialist, Sanders. (Lieberman voted not surprisingly with Bush).

Is your head spinning yet?

Reasons for supporting or rejecting the legislation are as varied and contradictory as the Senators casting their votes. Many championed the "comprehensive" nature of the bill, filled with everything for money for border fences and a crackdown on illegal employers. Though no senator would admit it, some oppose a wall because it would dry up the cheap labor enjoyed by their corporate donors. It is also possible that some equate border security with xenophobia. Certainly there are doughy eyed "give me your huddled masses" Dems in the rank and file (or is it forest and meadow) who oppose any restrictions on immigration and anything resembling a wall.

The bill also set forth a pathway to citizenship for millions of presently undocumented workers as well as a program for "guest workers." These were poison pills for many on both sides of the isle. Most Republicans consider it "amnesty" to grant citizenship to any illegal immigrant, despite the fees/fines imposed and English language requirements. Many liberals consider a guest worker program a formula for eternal second class citizenship. (In fact, it makes no provision for citizenship at all) and therefore believe that the bill wouldn't end the current exploitation of the estimated 12 million undocumented workers in the US.

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