Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

ROLL CALL: The immigration "compromise" is heartbreaking

Quick recap of what amendments did and did not pass today:

PASSED:
1) Increased penalties for illegal immigrants who have been convicted of sex offenses, crimes of domestic violence or the use of firearms in alien-smuggling operations, but not for those who subverted documents to get here.
2) Gave law enforcement and intelligence agencies access to information in applications for legal status that are denied. The vote was 57 to 39.
3) Ending the guestworker program after 5 years (49-48.)

FAILED:
1) Permanently barring criminals from entering the US or getting citizenship, denying legal status to illegal immigrants who had flouted deportation orders or been convicted of identity theft or fraudulent use of identification documents.
2) Menendez amendment to reunite family members who filed papers and who have been patiently waiting to see their loved ones.
3) Obama amendment to
4) Clinton amendment to

Today, Menendez's amendment died, in what looks like a long slow march for the immigration "compromise" to being voted through:

The Senate also rejected a proposal by Sen. Robert Menendez (news, bio, voting record), D-N.J., that bill supporters called a "killer amendment." It would have delayed the bill's shift in favor of attracting foreign workers with needed skills as opposed to keeping families together. Menendez won 53 votes, seven short of the 60 needed under a Senate procedural rule invoked by his opponents.

Menendez's proposal would have allowed more than 800,000 people who had applied for permanent legal status by the beginning of 2007 to obtain green cards based purely on their family connections — a preference the bill ends for most relatives who got in line after May 2005.

Sen. Jon Kyl (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz., a chief advocate of the bill, said most of the visa applicants Menendez wanted to help are so far back in line that it would be decades before the Homeland Security Department could process them. The Senate adopted Kyl's alternative, which would retain the family preference status for applicants who might win approval by 2026 under the department's projections.

Menendez, whose parents were Cuban immigrants, called the Kyl amendment "a fig leaf" that would make no meaningful change to the bill.

So family reunification, and honoring family values, is moot for almost a million people who got in line legally.

Obama and Hillary's amendments both failed as well.
One would have postponed the bill's shift to an emphasis on education and skills among visa applicants as opposed to family connections. The other, offered by Sen. Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record), D-Ill., would have ended a new point system for those seeking permanent resident "green cards" after five years rather than 14 years.

...Presidential contenders featured prominently in the day's debates. Sen. Hillary R. Clinton, D-N.Y., fell short in her bid to remove limits on visas for the spouses and minor children of immigrants with permanent resident status. Obama called the green card point system a risky "experiment in social engineering.
On the bright side, an amendment by Texas Senator John Cornyn (R) died after Democrats led by Kennedy (D-MA) put up a similar bill:

By a vote of 51 to 46, the Senate on Wednesday rejected an amendment proposed by Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, that could have made hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants ineligible for legal status.

Under Mr. Cornyn’s proposal, gang members, terrorists and other convicted felons would have been permanently barred from the United States and denied immigration benefits. Most significant, the amendment would have denied legal status to illegal immigrants who had flouted deportation orders or been convicted of identity theft or fraudulent use of identification documents.

By a vote of 66 to 32, the Senate approved the Democratic alternative, which would increase penalties for illegal immigrants who have been convicted of sex offenses, crimes of domestic violence or the use of firearms in alien-smuggling operations.

In a surprise, the Senate approved another Cornyn amendment that would give law enforcement and intelligence agencies access to information in applications for legal status that are denied. The vote was 57 to 39.

Mr. Cornyn said his proposal would give law enforcement “a critical tool to prevent document fraud and to prosecute those who have broken our immigration laws.”

But Mr. Kennedy said that without the guarantee of confidentiality, illegal immigrants would be extremely reluctant to come forward and apply for legal status.

To be honest, I understand that Kennedy is the key to the Democratic coalition, but I am sorry because I don't see the leader of the immigration debate in 1965 here, I see someone who is taking a less than progressive stance on this issue. I really think that this bill is going to be another No Child Left Behind, and we're going to be the ones eating it.

We also avoided some nasty poison pill amendments by Repubs like McConnell Amdt. No. 1170, To amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require individuals voting in person to present photo identification.

So now for the dirty nitty gritty ROLL CALL, cos you want to know where your Senator stands:

1) MENENDEZ FAMILY REUNIFICATION (pres. candidates bolded, those who voted against their party starred)

YEAs ---53
Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
*Bunning (R-KY)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Clinton (D-NY)
*Coleman (R-MN)
Conrad (D-ND)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Hagel (R-NE)
Harkin (D-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Inouye (D-HI)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Obama (D-IL)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Salazar (D-CO)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Smith (R-OR)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs ---44
Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Burr (R-NC)
Byrd (D-WV)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Dole (R-NC)
Domenici (R-NM)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lott (R-MS)
Lugar (R-IN)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (R-PA)
Stevens (R-AK)
Sununu (R-NH)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (R-VA)
Not Voting - 2
Dodd (D-CT)
Johnson (D-SD)

So Clinton, Obama, and Biden voted for this amendment, and Dodd ducked out the coward's way by not voting. Senator Johnson couldn't vote because he's at home recuperating. What's Dodd's excuse?!? Lieberman voted with the Dems on this one, thankfully.

As for Republican Norm Coleman, I'm not sure what is prompting his yes vote apart from representing a purple state that trends blue (Minnesota.) Because he also sponsored an amendment that would require the police to ask people about their immigration status, which is a pretty nasty piece of work and would lead to people being increasingly afraid to trust law enforcement.

Next up -- ROLL CALL: the other amendments.


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