Thursday, May 10, 2007

Keep up the Pressure on Killing Amnesty for Illegal Aliens

Thanks to Roy Beck of Numbers USA for all his hard work helping us focus our efforts on the right places to stop this Flake-Gutierrez Amnesty Bill. We will not allow a half-assed effort at fixing this problem just to get it out of the way before the run-up to 2008. Better to fix it RIGHT than to make it worse to appease some group of people who don't even have a voice in our government!


We're kind of winning ... Extra pressure today to keep amnesty from Senate floor


The news story below is like many last night and this morning that show that the open-borders forces are on the verge of collapsing in disputes.

Believe me, your constituency pressure on the 100 U.S. Senators is the only reason this is happening.

You can scan those stories for all the parts I have highlighted in red. Those are the things that are happening because of YOUR pressure -- this month and over the past year. All kinds of Republicans who callously voted for last year's amnesty have backed off and said they can no longer vote for that radical of a bill again. Even though most of them still want a radical bill, their shift has forced Democrats to decide whether they will remain as radical. YOU, YOU, YOU. You're the reason for the shifts that are absolutely tying t he open borders folks in knots.

But we cannot let up for a moment.

During the day, you will receive specific Alerts with links to new faxes and new phone action notes for your state's two Senators. I urge you to act immediately when you get them. (As you read this, you may want to go on to your personally customized Action Buffet right now to see what actions already are posted for you.)

It is at the moment of almost inevitable collapse in negotiations that disagreeing parties often compromise in a last-ditch effort to have some kind of conclusion.

Your job is to convince the 95% of Democrats who are open-borders champions that even if they accept the White House compromise, voters like you will consider them a sell-out of American workers. Strangely at this moment, we do not want Democrats to agree to the much toughe r enforcement measures the White House insists on (because of conservative Republican Senator pressure). The reason? Because the White House plan also includes a gigantic increase in foreign workers and their dependents. If the Dems are going to get your condemnation regardless of whether they compromise with the Republicans, they may be more likely to stick to their hard-line no-compromise position to please their open-borders supporters.

Your job is also to convince the approximately 50% of Republican Senators who want an amnesty (but who feel they have to water it down to avoid total public condemnation) that they can't take one more step toward Sen. Kennedy without risking incredible voter wrath.

What we are trying to do is further contribute to the log-jam in negotiations. The last thing we want right now is bi-partisan compromise and action. The Senate is filled with so many people who are totally callous to the needs of the American workers and the communitie s in which they live, that we need NOTHING to happen there (while local and state governments continue to make it more difficult for illegal workers and outlaw employers to continue their crimes).

See my closing comments below the news stories.

Reid Forces New Senate Debate on Immigration
He Would Revisit 2006, But GOP Is Warier Now

Click here to read on Post web page.

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 10, 2007; A04

With bipartisan talks on immigration near a standstill, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) moved yesterday to bring last year's broad overhaul of immigration laws back to the floor of the Senate next week, appealing to President Bush to save what could be his last hope for a major second-term domestic achievement.

The legislation -- which couples a border security crackdown with a guest-worker program and new avenues for undocumented immigrants to work legally in the country -- passed the Senate a year ago this month with the support of 62 members, 23 of them Republican, only to die in the House. With Democrats now in control of Congress and with the president eager for an accomplishment, immigrant rights groups believe the prospects for a final deal are far better this year.

But Senate Republicans, even those who helped craft last year's bill, say the political environment has shifted decisively against that measure and toward a tougher approach. Four Republican architects of the 2006 bill released a letter yesterday, pleading with Reid to hold off on the debate while bipartisan talks continue on new legislation.

"Last year's bill is not the solution for this year," said Sen. Mel Martinez (Fla.), one of those archi tects who is now general chairman of the Republican Party.

But Reid decided to force the issue, devoting the Senate's next two weeks to hammering out a comprehensive bill. If negotiators reach a deal on a new proposal in the coming days, he promised to bring it to a vote. "There are all kinds of excuses people could offer," Reid said. "But how can we have anything that's more fair than taking a bill that overwhelmingly passed the Senate on a bipartisan basis, and using that as the instrument" to build a new version?

Immigration poses political peril for both parties. It has badly split GOP-leaning business groups eager for immigrant labor from party-base conservatives furious at what they see as an invasion of illegal immigrants. Democrats must bridge a chasm between old-line labor groups that fear that immigrant workers are driving down wages and burgeoning service-worker unions that see low-wage workers as the backbone of a new labor movement.

Both parties are battling for the allegiance of Latino voters. Indeed, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) offered immigrant groups virtual veto power over this year's bill.

"Unless the stakeholders are going to believe that it's worthy of their support, no matter what we do here in the United States Senate, it isn't going to work," he said.

And, this year, the issue is tangled in presidential politics. One White House hopeful, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), has all but renounced a career-long stance favorable to immigrant rights. And the co-author of last year's bill, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), has been largely absent from this year's negotiations, as he soft-pedals his pro-immigration stance.

McCain spokeswoman Eileen McMenamin said yesterday that the senator remains committed to a bill that would strengthen border controls, back guest workers and offer illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

But Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said McCain's absence from the negotiations has been "a big factor" in the rising tide of Republican opposition. Another factor is a president whose authority on Capitol Hill is in steep decline. "The president's approval ratings do not exactly create a dynamic political force," Durbin said.

In that vacuum, Republican senators who opposed last year's bill have emerged as key players in this year's battle, and they have already succeeded in raising issues that were barely discussed in 2006. Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), an ardent opponent of last year's bill, said the measure got only so many GOP votes because Republican senators expected the final bill to be far tougher after emerging from negotiations with House GOP hard-liners. With Democrats now in charge of the House, Senate Republicans are taking a tougher stand, he said.

Senators are nearing agreement on some of the most contentious issues. Once again, an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants would probably get new avenues to find legal work and earn citizenship once they have established a strong work record, cleared a criminal-background check, and paid penalties and back taxes. Beefed-up border security would be linked to tougher penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants and to new tools for businesses to screen job applicants.

But Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided over the flow of new immigrants. Republicans, with the White House's backing, are proposing a three-year temporary-worker program that would allow 400,000 new workers to enter the country each year, provided they return to their home countries once their visas expire. A much smaller number, perhaps 20,000, would be able to apply for a work visa that could lead to legal permanent residency.

Even more controversial is a GOP effort to change current laws that allow legal U.S. residents to bring relatives in to the country. Republicans want to drop large categories from that family immigration system, blocking the inflow of adult children and siblings of U.S. residents and capping the number of parents allowed to migrate. That move would make room for more skilled workers and educated professionals.

Last year's bill would have allowed guest workers to remain in the country indefinitely and work toward citizenship.

With the divisions so deep, Republican Senate leadership aides privately said that the bill is "on life support." Democrats were no more optimistic. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the fate of comprehensive immigration legislation rests with Bush.

"The president has got to be personally involved," Leahy said. "He cannot just send up Cabinet members and ask them to speak with a few members of the president's party and think that that's going to get you through."

Re id Set to Move Border Bill

May 10, 2007
By John Stanton and Erin P. Billings,
Roll Call Staff

Senate Democratic and Republican leaders were digging in Wednesday for what could be an ugly political collapse of bipartisan efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform, with both sides already blaming their potential failure to pass legislation on the other’s unwillingness to compromise.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Wednesday afternoon that he would defy GOP filibuster threats and attempt to force last year’s Senate-passed immigration reform package to the floor next week.

Reid said that bill will act as a “framework” for the two-week debate and that he was still open to allowing the members of the bipartisan immigration negotiating group to offer any deal they reach as a substitute amendment for the underlying bill. “We all realize that bill is imperfect. But it’s the place we’re going to start,” Reid said .

But he rejected calls for more time to allow a bipartisan deal to emerge. “Some have said to me ... ‘do it another time, give us a little more time.’ We don’t have anymore time,” Reid said.

That prompted an angry response from Republicans, who accused Reid of attempting to marginalize a months-long bipartisan effort to draft compromise legislation.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) rejected the idea on the Senate floor and warned Reid that it would scuttle the bipartisan effort. McConnell said he was concerned Reid was “brush aside in favor of last year’s unsuccessful bill. ... I strongly urge my colleagues to reconsider this approach, if indeed it’s the one they plan to take ... any effort to move legislation on this issue that isn’t the result of the ongoing bipartisan discussions would be a clear signal from Democrats that they are not yet serious about immigration reform.”

Senate Republican Conference Chairman Jon Kyl (Ariz.), McConnell’s point man on immigration reform, also said he was concerned “by reports that Senate Democrats may attempt to pass last year’s immigration legislation rather than continue working toward a bipartisan solution.”

All 23 Republicans who voted for last year’s immigration bill sent a letter to Reid on Wednesday warning they would not vote for that measure again and calling on the Majority Leader to allow more time to work out a bipartisan deal.

The 2006 bill “is dead. We need a new bill,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who added that “we need a product coming off the Senate floor with 75 to 80 votes. And that product is within reach.”

With the procedural showdown threatening to derail movement of a bill, both sides acknowledged that the next 24 hours in the Senate will largely determine whether Congress can craft a bipartisan bill this year. But neither Democrats nor Republicans could predict how it ultimate ly will shake out, and the level of optimism continues to vary widely depending on whom you ask.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said lawmakers will have to see how each party’s leadership decides to proceed, and the outcome of the next round of bipartisan talks, which were set to begin again Wednesday afternoon.

“The bottom line is we need to move here,” Menendez said. “If we don’t take advantage of these two weeks, we will lose our opportunity. It will be hard to reschedule.”

Senators in both parties concede that the final two weeks of May could be the chamber’s only chance to reach a deal this Congress. Momentum is on their side heading into the Memorial Day recess, and too much legislation is competing for calendar space when Senators return to work next month.

Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) said early Wednesday that Senators are “at a critical moment” in the discussions, and while some may believe the negotiations are falling apart, he wasn’t ready to gi ve up.

“The next 24 hours or so will tell us where we are,” Martinez said. “We need to recommit to the process of a bipartisan solution.”

Sources indicated that McConnell was going to survey his Conference to see whether he could garner GOP unanimity in blocking Reid from moving forward with debate on the old bill next week.

GOP leaders want to wait until the bipartisan group of about 10 Senators produces a consensus bill before moving to a floor debate. Alternatively, they want Reid to use as a placeholder a “shell” bill that contains little more than immigration-related titles to kick off the Senate discussion.

Graham, who has credited Reid with forcing Senators to address the issue on a deadline, wasn’t ready to say the issue would be decided by the end of today, but he did acknowledge that time is running short. By next Monday, Graham said lawmakers would know whether a deal can be reached and if immigration can get done this year.

“We’ll know in the next couple of days,” Graham said. “I say it’s 50-50. How it ends, I don’t know.”

Graham added that if the bipartisan talks bear fruit, he believes their measure would be overwhelmingly popular, garnering 75 to 80 votes.

“This is the best chance there will be for immigration reform in years,” he said. “This is it.”

NumbersUSA friends, if you wonder whether you have the stamina to do another round of faxing and phoning, just consider that the next 24 hours may actually decide the fate of amnesty this year. You can see below that Sen. Graham (R-SC) says he is still hopeful that they can come up with a compromise that will garner 75-80 votes for a comprehensive amnesty.

I hope that many of you will read my congressional testimony from yesterday.

In many ways, it was an appalling experience. I tried to focus Congress' attention on the recommendations of the bi-partisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, chaired by the late Barbara Jordan (D-TX). The Commission pushed for immigration policies that were best for American workers.

Most of the Republicans on the House immigration panel seemed to wholeheartedly support those worker protection, although Rep. Lundgren (R-CA) suggested that he saw now no solution other than some form of amnesty for the officially estimated 7 million illegal foreign workers and their 5 million illegal dependents.

But the Democrats on the panel unaminously indicated that they don't have the slightest interest in the Jordan Commission protections for American workers. To a man and woman, they indicated that they want an amnesty for illegals, plus a lot more future foreign workers and that they want taxpayers to provide a lot more money for government programs to compensate the American workers who will lose wages and their jobs as a result.


-- ROY


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