Monday, March 27, 2006

Making Sense of the Soundbites

Today's the day. The Senate Judiciary Committee has a midnight deadline to hammer out an agreement on an immigration-reform bill that is scheduled for a two-week debate on the floor of the Senate. If the Associated Press is to be believed (I hear those guffaws, Ductape!), the protests of the past several weeks are making an impact.

"If they're prepared to work to become American citizens in the long line traditionally of immigrants who have helped make this country, we can have both a nation of laws and a welcoming nation of workers who do some very, very important jobs for our economy," Specter said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

Senate aides met into the evening Sunday in advance of a Judiciary Committee meeting to debate legislation, but there was no evidence of a breakthrough on the issue most in dispute. Lawmakers have been divided on whether illegal immigrants should be required to return to their home country before they become eligible for U.S. citizenship.


The Senate will ultimately take a moderate stance on reform, in stark contrast to their rabid colleagues in the House like James Sensenbrenner. I'm optimistic that that they will dismiss suggestions of criminalization, as HR4437 proposes. Can you image what would happen in this country if all-of-a-sudden 11 million plus (that's the official count, it's much more) people were considered felons overnight? Not to mention, criminalizing the actions of social workers, ESL instructors, and soup kitchen workers from coast-to-coast? We would enter an era unseen since the days of the civil war.

[Meta-Note]: Corresponding with a few of you over the past couple days made me realize how immersed I've been in the details of this debate. I often forget that some of the things we mention may not be common knowledge, so please feel free to ask any questions or clarification if you find yourself saying, "Huh?"

Cliff-Notes version of everything:
  • The House passed a horrible bill in December (HR4437), that would make it a felony to be/work in the U.S. without documentation; it also called for penalties towards anyone who aid them, which is why Cardinal Mahoney and other clergy have called for civil disobedience. If those facets aren't bad news, then consider that it also calls for construction of a 700-mile wall along the southern border and the placement of the military to "protect the homeland."
  • The Senate has four major bills competing at the moment: the bipartisan bill sponsored by McCain/Kennedy, hardline-stance by Kyl/Cornyn, a guest-worker program by Specter, and a bizarre out-of-nowhere offering by Frist.
  • George Bush is actually taking the moderate stance on this at the moment. I don't trust Shrub one iota, so we'll see if he is being a political opportunist or not if/when the final bills make it out of the Congress and to his desk.
Preguntas? :)

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