Until yesterday, it had been looking like the differences were going to be too great for Kennedy and the “middle-ground” Republicans like Sen. Kyl (R-AZ), Sen. Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Isakson (R-GA), as well as for Senate GOP leaders like Sen. McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Lott (R-MS). But now, the danger appears to have risen considerably.
I have been meeting all last night and today with congressional staffers and leaders of other immigration-reduction organizations.
The overall consensus is that a disastrous compromise is very, very near. That would mean an amnesty passing the Senate in May and a lot of momentum for the House to pass it in July.
I cannot over-emphasize how important it is for you to give immediate feedback to all GOP Senators to this news.
And remember to state that an amnesty is anything that allows illegal aliens to keep what they broke the law to obtain: (1) residence in the U.S. and (2) jobs in the U.S. Don’t let them get by with vague language about opposing a “blanket amnesty” or a “citizenship amnesty” or an “automatic amnesty.”
Either these Senators are willing to let illegal aliens live and work in the U.S. legally and indefinitely, or they are willing to stand against amnesty.
And remember that agreeing to a “trigger” just means that illegal aliens will get immediate legal rights to live and work in U.S. but won’t get to start the process for a permanent green card and citizenship until the trigger of enforcement is met. Anybody who agrees to a “trigger” is agreeing to an amnesty.
When you call, talk specifically about this article, which nearly all of our Senate contacts are telling us seems to be accurate.
You will see that our Rosemary is quoted as saying that we have all but given up on the Senate. That is true in terms of anything good coming out. But she was taken a bit out of context. We still have high hopes of voters putting enough pressure on their Senators to block the amnesty from coming out of the Senate.
Senate Group Close To Immigration Deal
By FAWN JOHNSON
A core group of senators that has been meeting almost daily for the last several weeks is close to announcing the outlines of a comprehensive immigration bill that could be the basis for Senate debate in late May.
“I think we’ve made a ton of progress, and I think next week, we might even be able to talk about it more publicly,” said Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., who is part of the group. “The problems are small and manageable.”
“There isn’t overall agreement,” said Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. “The discussions, I think, are being taken in good faith. …It’s a constructive dialogue.”
Two components likely to be part of the agreement are a “trigger” mechanism that would delay implementation of a guestworker program until enforcement mechanisms are in place and a new “Z visa” program for undocumented workers in the United States, according to Martinez.
The negotiators have agreed to use the Z visa to give undocumented workers benefits not available for future guestworkers. “Once you have a Z visa, you can do something for the population here. Give them, not a certain or immediate path to citizenship, but a potential path to citizenship. And then the guestworkers you can deal with just as guestworkers,” Martinez said.
The trigger provision might be enough to win support from Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., who voted against the Senate immigration bill last year. Isakson wants sophisticated surveillance at the border, bolstered border patrol and biometric ID cards for all foreign entrants into the country.
“If you have a meaningful security outline to trigger the reform, then that makes the reform work,” Isakson said. “I’ve been very encouraged by the progress we’ve been making.”
Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Gutierrez have been key players in the talks, which also include Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., Ken Salazar, D-Colo., Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and John McCain, R-Ariz.
Last year, when Isakson first floated his trigger idea on the floor, he said it would take two years to satisfy his enforcement criteria. Today, he said, that process would take only 18 months because the Homeland Security Department has beefed up enforcement.
Lawmakers in the negotiations say the administration’s stepped-up involvement and its willingness to debate details have gone a long way in mollifying members with differing points of view. “Kennedy and McCain and myself and others have moved. And I think Kyl and Cornyn have also moved,” Martinez said.
Menendez concurred. “We’ve all moved,” he said.
If the members of the group can hold together, Republicans who last year did not support the Senate bill could sign on, including Kyl, Cornyn, Isakson, and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. That would fit with the administration’s goal of attracting a substantial number of Senate Republicans to a comprehensive bill to give cover to House Republicans.
“The Senate is so far removed from reality,” said NumbersUSA Government Relations Director Rosemary Jenks, whose group opposes any type of legal status for illegal immigrants. Jenks said she and other opponents have all but given up on the Senate, but they hope to stop a bill in the House that creates legalization opportunities for illegal workers.
House Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., who has been handed the task of shepherding an immigration bill through the House this year, is beginning the process with a series of hearings — up to two a week — on every aspect of the issue. “We’ll know a lot more at the end,” she said.
In the House, the plan is to pass an immigration bill in July. It could be the last bill members vote on before departing for the August recess.
In the Senate, lawmakers are considering moving an immigration proposal directly to the floor, bypassing the Judiciary Committee, which is mired in other issues. “And then it goes to the House, and then who knows,” said Martinez.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 20, 2007 02:44 PM | Send