Friday, May 10, 2013

Immigration bill thwarts conservative amendments

So far.

A landmark bill backed by President Barack Obama to overhaul the nation's immigration system survived unscathed on Thursday during the first day of consideration by a divided Senate Judiciary Committee.

On bipartisan votes, the panel rejected conservatives' attempts to thwart implementation of a centerpiece of the bill - a pathway to U.S. citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants.
By day's end leading Democratic and Republican senators said the committee had improved the bill.

The panel, composed of 10 Democrats and eight Republicans, accepted 21 relatively modest amendments that focus largely on border security and increased congressional oversight. All but one amendment were agreed to on bipartisan votes.

Eleven other amendments were rejected or withdrawn, many of them Republican bids to bolster border security in ways that went far beyond the steps spelled out in the bill, while also delaying or even killing proposals to legalize undocumented immigrants.

Via jobsanger (more pessimistic than me about the bill's prospects), here's some of those eleven.

1. Undocumented immigrants can never become citizens. “No person who is or has previously been willfully present in the United States will [sic] not in lawful status…shall be eligible for United States citizenship.” Offered by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
2. Mandatory DNA testing. Registered provisional immigrant applicants must submit a DNA sample to the Department of Justice to compare against the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) at the FBI. Offered by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
3. Zero assistance. Would prohibit undocumented immigrants who earn provisional legal status from applying for permanent residence if they qualify for state means-tested assistance, the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), the temporary assistance for needy families program (TANF), or supplemental security income benefits (SSI). Offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).
4. Bans humanitarian travel. Immigrants who are in provisional legal status but have to go back to their home countries for a humanitarian reason (to visit a sick relative, for instance) would be prohibited from re-entering the United States. Currently, the provisional legal status includes an authorization for travel.Offered by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
5. Guts family re-unification. The green card distribution for some foreigners relies on a point allocation system in which a certain number of points must be accumulated before those individuals can qualify for a merit-based visa. This amendment would eliminate points for siblings of U.S. citizens and points for individuals from low-sending countries from counting towards merit-based immigrant visas. Offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).
6. In-person interviews for 11 million immigrants. Sure to slow down the process time for 11 million immigrants, an in-person interview would be required to determine one’s eligibility requirements for provisional legal status. Offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

While the Democrats -- together with Republicans Jeff Flake and Lindsey "Begging for a Primary" Graham -- deflected the worst of it, it looks as if Charles Schumer -- charged with sheperding this legislation through the Judiciary Committee -- is going to let the gays get thrown under the bus in order to get the bill done.

John Aravosis at AMERICAblog has been all over this particular issue. There's going to be some of that "perfect is the enemy of the good" rationalizing once the markup is completed and the bill passes out of committee to the full Senate.

Stace's Two Cents has some good links and a report from his and hermina Toni's Brown Bag conversation yesterday at lunch.

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