Immigration Bill Navigates Early Obstacles

With Washington distracted by scandals small and large, the immigration bill is quietly sailing through the Senate Judiciary Committee

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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

From left: Senators Chuck Grassley, Chuck Schumer and Patrick Leahy confer as the Senate Judiciary Committee assembles to work on a landmark immigration bill in Washington on May 20, 2013

Slow but sure seems to be working for the supporters of the Senate’s immigration bill. With Washington distracted by scandals large and small, the Senate Judiciary Committee continued to chew its way through amendments to the bipartisan measure on Monday. With 10 Democratic supporters and two Republican authors of the bill on the 18-member panel, the committee has parried dozens of attempts to undermine the measure during the first four days of debate, such as a Republican proposal on Monday that would have allowed profiling of immigrants based on their country of origin.

Working through the first half of the 300 amendments (the full list, with available results, can be viewed here) has been a laborious process, but in many respects a model one. The transparent method adopted by the committee, led by Democratic chairman Patrick Leahy, has led to civil debate and minimal demagoguery. Some two dozen amendments filed by Republicans have been adopted. Many of them address conservatives’ concerns about border security, including a Monday proposal from Utah Republican Orrin Hatch — seen as a swing vote on the bill — that would create a new biometric ID system at the 30 most trafficked U.S. airports. Democrats like New York’s Chuck Schumer supported Hatch’s amendment as part of an effort to ease concerns about the bill’s enforcement provisions, as well as insulate it from charges of partisanship.

But the Senators trying to pass the first major overhaul of U.S. immigration law in a generation have slogged only through the easy part. The committee has yet to consider several amendments whose passage could unravel fragile alliances. One of these is Hatch’s effort to boost the allotted number of high-skilled visas. The idea, championed by a contingent of Silicon Valley tech companies, is opposed by labor groups, who say it would threaten the job prospects of American workers. The panel may also take up Leahy’s amendment to allow gays to sponsor their foreign partners for green cards. If adopted, that change could create fissures within the so far sturdy Gang of Eight, whose Republican members ardently oppose it. Many Democrats, including those who support Leahy’s amendment, are hoping he will withhold it until the bill reaches the full Senate, where it would presumably be defeated without scuttling the entire bill. The Judiciary Committee is hoping to wrap up its work as early as Wednesday night.

10 comments
DavidFarrar
DavidFarrar

Since the IRS has admitted culpability in its illegal attempt to suppress the voices of conservative 501(c)(3)(4) groups before the 2012 elections, it now becomes the IRS' responsibility to mitigate the damage done to these organizations.

At the very least all immigration amnesty legislation should be tabled until after the 2014 elections to give the Tea Party a chance to be heard on this subject in its true voice, at its proper level.

Also each state legislature should be called into session and adopt an "Article V" motion that would make IRS employees who engage in using the IRS to punish their political enemies a "criminal offense".

ex animo

davidfarrar

drudown
drudown

@DavidFarrar 

Talk about revisionist history. The IRS has made no such admissions. Nor can you cite actual damages incurred by the commercially reasonable scrutiny that their sham "charity" status creates. Show me the facts, not your own partisan spin, e.g., how is responding to IRS questions designed to ensure compliance "damaging" to these political operative groups? Do tell in concrete terms. And, no, filing a frivolous lawsuit doesn't count.

drudown
drudown

In addition to border security, a tax designed to pay for both the direct and ancillary Entitlement costs for ANY foreign nationals is a commercially reasonable, condition precedent to any "reform". 

Or, in their shameless rush to court new voters, did both sides forget (1) we still have record deficits and (2) Entitlement costs for EXISTING citizens are the greatest threat in terms of open-ended liabilities? I fancy.

AbiolaArthur
AbiolaArthur

Don't you know this is just all about money. Yeah they will pay for illegals, but wait till the illegals are legal to work, sky high taxes etc. and who do you think is going to benefit, surely not the illegals

drudown
drudown

@AbiolaArthur 

I don't follow you. You claim "yeah they will pay for illegals"...you mean the GOP members of Congress? Where is the support for such a proposition? As for granting amnesty to illegal immigrants creating "sky high taxes", you erroneously presuppose that they are going to generate more tax revenue in lower skilled jobs than the entitlement cost they create. Again, not true. 

As for the illegal immigrants "not benefitting", that is asinine. They are coming to a better economy, albeit working lower skilled jobs and under harsh conditions. But to suggest they are the victim is outlandish. They are free to leave along with the Obama haters.

DaveFrancis
DaveFrancis like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

ARE WE SO GULLIBLE?

It’s a very disheartening situation when we cannot trust people who run this country, and take it upon themselves to draft a immigration plan that will not only allow 11 million illegal aliens (this number has basically remained the same for 10 years?) to eventually become citizens, even though many of the them have stolen a citizens ID, they are still guaranteed a Path to citizenship. Persons who caused terrible anguish to unknown numbers of victims annually, by obtaining a person’s Social Security Number should not be rewarded with anything. There is so many major negatives with this reform plan, that there is going to be an ugly confrontation before it’s all over. If I might voice my opinion, the whole arrangement smells of a set-up? The only winners are corporations, agriculture and other big businesses and of course the people who violated immigration policies, the “Rule of Law” that most free thinking Americans live by?Lobbyists pressure the dominating Washington elites to alter amendments, giving gaping wide loophole and discretionary judgment, to the officials as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano, which are doing a questionable job along the border and internal enforcement. Remember politicians are self absorbed on their own electable preservation. ALWAYS REMEMBER MOST POLITICIANS ARE LOOKING TO BE REELECTED, BUT IF THEY LOSE THEIR SEATS EVENTUALLY THEY CAN BECOME LOBBYISTS FOR ANOTHER SPECIAL INTEREST ENTITY?

We, the people birthright citizens and legal immigrants are the backbone of America that strives for goals and a good economic future for their families. We do not survive on other people’s sweat, but work hard for what we obtain for each of us; while a good half of America live of welfare payments and food stamps. Our country is open to all, welcoming everybody who arrives here as a legal immigrant. We do not expect government to infiltrate in our lives, as we see with the Obama administration? But as we are seeing those we have elected have rejected most of the reasonable amendments brought forward, including the original promised triggers that would stay any new comprehensive reform until the real two parallel fences are built. Many lawmakers are aspiring to take the current Immigration laws, and reassemble them as needed, with the emphasis on enforcement. Take each piece of legislation and adjust them to fit what is required today. This would be far better for the American population, instead of the new S.477 commitment that looks to most people a one way street.

barneydidit
barneydidit

@DaveFrancis I suppose it would be a stretch to ask for any verification of you claims there Dave? Illegal immigrants habitually stealing identities? Half the country living on welfare and foodstamps? Government infiltrates our lives? Sounds like a Sean Hannity rant to me. 

wigglwagon
wigglwagon

@barneydidit @DaveFrancisAn 800 page reform bill is ridiculous.

The penalty for employers of illegal workers should be mandatory $15,000 fine per illegal worker and mandatory 2 years in jail without parole per illegal worker. That and deportation of the illegal worker would put an immediate end to the problem.

That is ALL the reform we need.

People like the DREAMERS are not needed in America. The people in their home countries need the DREAMERS to help build free, prosperous societies. It is America's responsibility to help all countries build a better world. We should not be stealing 'the best and the brightest' from other countries.

DaveFrancis
DaveFrancis

I happened to come across this little nightmare commentary, that the IRS has excuses for—even though taxpayers are being robbed blind? POLITICIANS WOULD BE WISE THE VIEW THE THOUSANDS OF DISCOURAGED AND LIVID EDITORIAL LETTERS AND COMMENTARY THAT THE PEOPLE SEE AS AN RUSHED IMMIGRATION REFORM BILL.

The only way to cure illegal immigration is a national biometric identification card, that will stop dead illegal aliens hired for work, and additionally also be used to thwart non-citizens voting and eradicating credit theft. The document would contain a iris scan, plus a thumb print. Expensive to issue, but eventually would save trillions. While the Democrats are trying to excuse the IRS scandal, I believe if there was a national referendum today the way would be cleared to introduce a new Tax code. It would be a Fair or Flat tax, with no escape clauses for anybody including the 40 percent who pay no taxes and no waivers for any businesses.

Hi Everybody, Boy am I ready to talk about immigration. Let's begin with PAYING TAXES: Guess what? I am a CRTP [California Registered Tax Preparer] and about 20% of my clients are undocumented. To file a tax return a person either needs a SSN or an ITIN. An undocumented is permitted to get the Individual Taxpayer ID Number with which he may file a return. Working using a bogus SSN he gets a bogus W-2 and files with the ITIN. Why? Mainly to get the $1000 for each kid under age 17. Yep, the U.S. Government gives away up to $1000 for each of his kids. Do you like that? Well, Mr. GWB invented that one. Another kicker? Each dependent cancels the immigrant's tax liability up to $850. Three kids? $3000 in their pocket plus cancelling $2500 in taxes? So much for paying back taxes! Only single filers or couples without kids may pay a $ grand at most. Two or Three kids? No taxes are due. ZIP. NOTHING! NADA! So much for Obama's promise they'll pay taxes! Give me and you a break!

First free food stamps and now this: WELFARE FOR ILLEGALS. WITH MILLIONS OF AMERICANS UNABLE TO FIND WORK, THESE POLITICIANS WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO PROTECT US, ARE READY TO SELL US OUT ONCE AGAIN, AS IN 1986? WE ALSO NEED CONGRESSIONAL PROTECTION FROM THE IRS (KGB) AND THE AMERICAN TAXPAYER NEEDS TO SPEAK UP. NO MORE FAVORITISM! TIME FOR A FAIR, FLAT TAX AND REMOVE THIS AWFUL BLEMISH FROM SOCIETY? NO PERSON IN THE JURISDICTION OF THE UNITES STATES SHOULD BE ABLE TO DODGE TAXES, INCLUDING THE POOR AND “FREE LOADERS”. Tell Congress, "AMNESTY IS BAD FOR AMERICA! VOTE NO!" and do it today by phoning the central Washington switchboard at toll-free t 1-888-978-3094. Learn more about the illegal immigration cost travesty at NUMBERSUSA, AMERICAN PATROL & JUDICIAL WATCH.