Thursday, May 25, 2006

Senate passes immigration bill

Well, it looks like they went ahead and did it. This afternoon the US Senate passed the amnesty - sorry- immigration bill 62-36, with Senators John McCain (r-AZ) and Teddy Kennedy (d-MA) leading the charge. Here is a link to how your senators voted.

The vote clears the way for a summertime compromise with the House on its version that focuses on border enforcement.

The legislation provides for a new `guest worker' program and grants legal status to most of the 11 million to 12 million immigrants in the country illegally.

The new guest worker program would admit 200,000 new individuals a year. Once here, they would be permitted to apply for a green card that confers legal permanent residency.

A separate new program hidden deep in the 600 page bill deals with the admission of an additional admission of an estimated 1.5 million immigrant farm workers who may also apply for permanent residency.

The bill creates a three-tiered program related to illegal immigrants:

Those in the country unlawfully for five years or more would be permitted to remain, continue working and eventually apply for citizenship. They would be required to pay at least $3,250 in fines and fees, settle any back taxes and learn English.

The bill does not mandate English as the official language of the US, so it's difficult to see how the `learn English' part of this is enforceable, especially if it's challenged in court.

Illegal immigrants in the country for more than two years but less than five would be required to travel to a point of entry before re-entering the United States legally and beginning a lengthy process of seeking citizenship. They would be subject to the same fines, fees and other requirements as the longer-term immigrants.

An immigrant in the country illegally for less than two years would be required to leave with no guarantee of return.

Of course, the bill doesn't specify criteria for determining length of residence. Can you spell `document fraud' senators?

Nor does it specify exactly how the US government intends to enforce deportation on the estimated 2 million immigrants who don't meet the criterion.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), of all people at least acknowledged the farce of all this and admitted that it is not realistic "to assume that, first, the Department of Homeland Security is going to be able to go out and deport 2 million people, and then secondly, to ensure that the other 2.8 million leave to go back for the 'touchback' program."

Another aspect of all this that the bill didn't address is the drain on the US treasury from increased medicare , Social Security, education and infrastructure costs and retroactive refunds due illegals for the Earned Income Credit on back taxes. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)attempted to intorduce an amendment to partially address this that would deny an earned income tax credit to illegal immigrants who would now be working legally in the United States if this bill becomes law.

Sessions called the bill a "budget buster" that would grow even costlier if these tax credits were granted.

"It's not necessary that we provide this . . . outlay from our Treasury directly to people who've come here illegally and reward them in that fashion," Sessions said.

The amendment was voted down by the senate by a 60-37 vote.

It's an amnesty bill. And one created to guarantee a continued flow of low wage illegal immigrants across the border.

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