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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Amnesty Program going through Senate UPDATE

THIS JUST IN!

Senate Judiciary Committee Resumes Consideration of Amnesty Guest Worker Bill Thursday morning the Senate Judiciary Committee sat for the second day this week to consider Chairman Arlen Specter's proposal to establish an unlimited guest worker amnesty program. This is a brief summary of the day's events. Next Wednesday and Thursday, the committee is scheduled again to take up this measure.

FAIR's Exclusive Eyewitness Account of Today's Committee Action
Unlike yesterday, many of the committee members were present at the opening of business. This permitted votes to be taken on amendments today that yesterday had to be set aside.

Below is a list of the actions that took place in the Judiciary Committee Thursday:

Sen. Kyl (R-AZ) offered the amendment that had been set aside yesterday to build fencing in urban areas along the Mexico-U.S. border in Arizona. Senator Kennedy (D-MA) argued against the amendment, preferring a study. Chairman Specter indicated his willingness to expand the study and shorten the deadline for its submission, but expressed support for the amendment. Senator Sessions (R-AL) argued that a study would only delay border enforcement. The amendment was approved by voice vote.

Sen. Kennedy (D-MA) offered an amendment to require a study of the border fence. Sen. Kyl objected to creating a guest worker program that would go into effect before any fencing is built, arguing the two should be done simultaneously. Kennedy replied that the guest worker program would ease pressure on the border. The amendment was approved by voice vote.

Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) offered an amendment to affirm the 10,000 increase in the number of border patrol agents provided by the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004.

Sen. Sessions (R-AL) offered an amendment to the Feinstein border patrol amendment to further increase the border patrol by 2,000 agents over a five year period.
The Feinstein amendment, as modified by Sessions, was approved by voice vote.

Sen. Graham (R-SC) offered an amendment to establish a Department of Defense (DoD) liaison to the border patrol. The amendment was approved by voice vote.

Sen. Coburn (R-OK) offered an amendment to reduce the time from 5 to 2 years in which new border patrol agents must be added under the above Sessions/Feinstein amendment. The amendment was approved by voice vote.

Sen. Sessions (R-AL) offered an amendment to create a new crime for evading border inspection. Chairman Specter argued that this was already covered under the language of his bill. The amendment was set aside.

Sen. Sessions (R-AL) offered an amendment to prevent state and local governments from requiring private businesses to fund day labor centers in order to obtain, renew or expand business permits. Senator Feinstein expressed support for the amendment while Senator Kennedy voiced his opposition on grounds that this would interfere with state and local decision-making. The amendment was approved by voice vote.

Sen. Grassley (R-IA) offered an amendment requiring oversight of border security contracts greater than $20 million and further requiring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to report all contracts given to foreign companies. Grassley argued the amendment was made necessary by the growing practice of outsourcing national security. Without debate or discussion, the amendment was approved by voice vote.

Sen. Sessions (R-AL)offered an amendment requiring detention of illegal aliens who are other than Mexicans and a $5,000 bond for release. This amendment aims to end current "catch and release" policies. Senator Kyl argued that the amendment represents the current policy of the White House and therefore should be adopted. Others argued that the amendment would never work as long as there are too few detention beds. The amendment was approved by voice vote.

Sen. Grassley (R-IA) offered an amendment to increase the number of immigration agents allocated to each state. The amendment was approved by voice vote.

Sen. Grassley (R-IA) offered an amendment to add drunk driving to the list of aggravated felonies, making this infraction a deportable offense. The amendment was approved by voice vote.

Sen. Durbin (D-IL) offered an amendment that had been set aside yesterday to delete the provision making illegal presence in the United States a crime. Referring to illegal aliens, Durbin stated that "I don't believe they are criminals." Others on the committee suggested that instead of criminalizing illegal presence, overstaying a visa should be made a crime (currently a civil infraction). Chairman Specter and others supporting a guest worker program argued that illegal aliens currently present should not be criminalized. The amendment was set aside until discussion of the amnesty guest worker provisions of the bill.

Sen. Durbin (D-IL) offered an amendment to expand the church group exemption from the alien smuggling provisions in the bill to include other groups. Senator Kyl objected to the broadness of the amendment. Chairman Specter indicated his willingness to consider the change, but needed more specific language. The amendment was set aside.

Sen. Feingold (D-WI) offered an amendment to strike the provision regarding the naturalization process and revert back to current law. Amid much confusion over the effect of the language, the amendment was set aside.

Sen. Brownback (R-KS) offered an amendment that had been set aside yesterday to reauthorize the J-1 visa program for doctors. The amendment was approved by voice vote.

Sen. Brownback (R-KS) offered an amendment that had been set aside yesterday to remove nurses and physical therapists from the annual employment-based and country caps.

oThe amendment was set aside until discussion of legal immigration and work visa provisions of the bill are considered.

Sen. Coburn (R-OK) offered an amendment that had been set aside yesterday to mandate use of expedited removal for illegal aliens (other than Mexicans) captured within 100 miles of the southern border and within 14 days of entry. The amendment was approved by voice vote.

Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) offered an amendment that had been set aside yesterday to prevent convicted felons from sponsoring immigrants. The amendment was approved by voice vote.

Sen. Kennedy (D-MA) offered an amendment to delete all provisions in the bill that apply retroactively, such as the sections relating to aggravated felonies and passport fraud. Senator Kyl disagreed that all of the language covered by Senator Kennedy's amendment was in fact retroactive and Senator Sessions voiced strong opposition to the amendment. The amendment was set aside.

Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) offered an amendment to exempt asylees and refugees from the crime of document fraud where DHS determines there is a credible threat of persecution. The amendment was approved by voice vote.

Keep Those Calls Coming

During today's committee deliberations, most of the border security and enforcement sections of the bill were completed. The next sections the committee will consider are the employment eligibility verification, guest worker and amnesty provisions. These sessions will occur next Wednesday and Thursday. Be sure to contact the members of the Committee if you haven't already done so. Their contact information is listed below.

Main Senate Switchboard: (202) 224-3121

Senate Judiciary Committee:
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) - 202-224-4254
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT) - 202-224-5251
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-IA) - 202-224-3744
Sen. Jon L. Kyl (R-AZ) - 202-224-4521
Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) - 202-224-2315
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) - 202-224-4124
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC) - 202-224-5972
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) - 202-224-2934
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) - 202-224-6521
Sen. Thomas A. Coburn (R-OK) - 202-224-5754
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) - 202-224-4242
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) - 202-224-4543
Sen. Joseph R. Biden (D-DE) - 202-224-5042
Sen. Herbert H. Kohl (D-WI) - 202-224-5653
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) - 202-224-3841
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) - 202-224-5323
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) - 202-224-6542
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) - 202-224-2152

1 comment:

Rosemary said...

I'm sorry, but I just cannot read anymore of these for the time being. I get too upset! I'm sure yours is great, though. :)