Tuesday, June 5, 2007

S.AMDT. 9999 to S.1348 Purpose: To test if anyone is reading any of these amendments

Senators have been trying to add all sorts of amendments to the Immigration Bill (S. 1348). On Monday, June 4, no fewer than ten amendments were considered, many of which had been introduced in late May. These amendments include:

Mitch McConnell (R-KY) S. 1170 "To require individuals voting in person to present photo identification";

Hillary Clinton (D-NY) S. 1183 "To reclassify the spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents as immediate relatives";

John Cornyn (R-TX) S. 1184 "To establish a permanent bar for gang members, terrorists, and other criminals";

Wayne Allard (R-CO) S. 1189 "To eliminate the preference given to people who entered the United States illegally over people seeking to enter the country legally in the merit-based evaluation system for visas";

Joseph Liberman (ID-CT) S. 1191 "To provide safeguards against faulty asylum procedures and to improve conditions of detention";

Christopher Dodd (D-CT) S. 1199 "To increase the number of green cards for parents of United States citizens, to extend the duration of the new parent visitor visa, and to make penalties imposed on individuals who overstay such visas applicable only to such individuals";

Barack Obama (D-IL) S. 1202 "To provide a date on which the authority of the section relating to the increasing of American competitiveness through a merit-based evaluation system for immigrants shall be terminated";

Richard Durbin (D-IL) S. 1231. "To ensure that employers make efforts to recruit American workers" (note to Durbin staff: Buy your boss a map; Mexico is in America);

Jeff Sessions (R-AL) S. 1234 "To save taxpayers up to $24 billion in the ten years after the passage of this Act, by preventing the earned income tax credit, which is, according to the Congressional Research Service, the largest anti-poverty entitlement program of the Federal Government, from being claimed by Y temporary workers or illegal aliens given status by this act until they adjust to legal permanent resident status." (Hmmm. The IRS requires "illegal aliens" to pay all federal taxes. Curious that in revisiting the rules for these workers Sessions is not exempting them from estate taxes if they happen to die before they have legal permanent resident status, or from income taxes in general. Must just be an oversight.)

John Cornyn (R-TX) S. 1250 "To address documentation of employment and to make an amendment with respect to mandatory disclosure." (This one ignores the fourth amendment and would require the Department of Homeland Security to turn over all employment records in its files to the Keystone cops or anyone else with a badge:
"Required Disclosures.--The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State shall provide the information furnished pursuant to an application filed under section 601 and 602, and any other information derived from such furnished information, to--(1) a law enforcement entity, intelligence agency, national security agency, component of the Department of Homeland Security, court, or grand jury in connection with a criminal investigation or prosecution or a national security investigation or prosecution, in each instance about an individual suspect or group of suspects, when such information is requested by such entity;"

All told, there are 133 amendments that have been nominally introduced--some are revisions by Sen. Kennedy, the bill's author--and most have not yet been considered. One reason for this is that many of these do not have titles or text. For instance, Pete Dominici (R-NM) has NINE amendments with numbers, and not a single one has a purpose. They read, "Purpose will be available when the amendment is proposed for consideration," which admittedly is much better than having the purpose of the amendment available after it has been considered.

Sen. Kennedy today expressed concerns that the multitude of amendments might doom the delicate balancing act of the initial bill. But these are not budget numbers where you can cut a bit here and give back a bit more there. The lives of the 12 million people living without legal status, and the hundreds of millions more affected by them and future immigrants abroad, and the hundreds of millions deeply affected by these decisions as legal residents of the USA, requires a thorough and deliberative discussion about the borders, history, and membership of this country since its founding, not to mention the ignorant nativism that is the sole force motivating the thought that living on earth requires a state license. At present our politicians and the general public are badly uneducated on these questions and while this might leave them willing to settle for the result that imposes the greatest amount of unhappiness on the largest number of their ideological enemies, Senator Kennedy should know better.

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