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December 19, 2005

Sensenbrenner/King Bill Passes House

Dear Immigrant Rights Advocates:

With a 239 to 182 vote, the House passed the Sensenbrenner/King bill (H.R. 4437). For details on the bill and how your member voted, scroll down for the policy update from the National Immigration Forum. Additionally, here is the link to a Washington Post article on the House bill:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/16/AR2005121601814_pf.html

The efforts in the field and in D.C. to defeat H.R. 4437 were tremendous. Now we must build on that momentum to ensure that anti-immigration bills such as this cannot pass through the Senate and that real comprehensive immigration reform moves forward. The fight for humane and compassionate national immigrant rights legislation is far from over.

On December 16, 2005 the House passed H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act, sponsored by James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Peter King (R-NY). The vote was 239 to 182.

Amendments;

In an update sent Friday, I listed a few of the amendments being offered during the floor debate. Not all had recorded votes. Here are some results. A more complete summary of what happened will be sent out next week.

An amendment to end the diversity visa lottery program passed 273 – 148.
http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll653.xml

An amendment to eliminate family 4th preference visas (brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens) and shift those visa numbers to the employment-based system was withdrawn.

An amendment giving state and local law enforcement “inherent authority” to enforce immigration laws was passed 237 – 180.
http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll656.xml

There was an amendment offered by Rep. Sensenbrenner at the request of the administration. The bill would make unauthorized presence an “aggravated felony,” punishable by a sentence of one year and a day. Some genius figured out that—oops!—to prosecute undocumented immigrants for this crime would take a grand jury indictment, trial by jury, and a right to court-appointed counsel. Multiply that by 11 million. The amendment would have lowered the maximum sentence for unauthorized presence to six months. (This is below the threshold where the above-mentioned rights come into play.) This amendment was rejected 164 to 257.

Hall of Fame;

Seventeen Republicans voted against the bill, not all for good reasons. Some, like J.D. Hayworth, rejected the bill because they felt it did not go far enough. We’ll have more to say about how Republicans voted next week.

The vote was as close as it was because of the unprecedented cooperation among advocates in Washington and around the country representing religious organizations, immigrant communities and advocacy groups, businesses, labor unions, conservative groups, House staffers and members, and many others who did an amazing job in the ten days from the time the bill was introduced to the time it went to the House floor. As Frank Sharry of the Forum noted after the vote, when we were faced with a similar situation in 1996, with the House voting on punitive anti-immigrant legislation, we lost 350 to 85. Great job everyone!! The battle now shifts to the Senate.

Hall of Shame;

If you’ve done the math by now, you might ask, with 17 Republicans voting against their leadership, why did we lose?

Thirty-six Democrats voted for the bill. Since I cannot think of a good reason to vote for this bill, I will provide the list for your convenience.

Alabama – Robert Cramer
Arkansas – Marion Berry, Mike Ross
Colorado – John Salazar, Mark Udall
Georgia – John Barrow, Jim Marshall
Hawaii – Ed Case
Illinois – Melissa Bean, Jerry Costello, Daniel Lipinski
Indiana – Peter Visclosky
Iowa – Leonard Boswell
Kansas – Dennis Moore
Kentucky – Ben Chandler
Louisiana – Charlie Melancon
Minnesota – Collin Peterson
Mississippi – Gene Taylor
Missouri – Ike Skelton
New York – Brian Higgins
North Carolina – Mike McIntyre
North Dakota – Earl Pomeroy
Ohio – Ted Strickland
Oklahoma – Dan Boren
Oregon – Peter DeFazio
Pennsylvania – Tim Holden, Paul Kanjorski
South Dakota – Stephanie Herseth
Tennessee – Lincoln Davis, Harold Ford, Bart Gordon, John Tanner
Texas – Chet Edwards
Utah – Jim Matheson
Virginia – Rick Boucher

Washington – Rick Larsen

You can find the full breakdown on the vote here:
http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll661.xml

A statement by the Forum is posted on our Web site at:
http://www.immigrationforum.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=781

Members are going home this weekend for the holiday break. Feel free to visit them and let them know what you think.

Posted by VisaLawyer at December 19, 2005 01:42 PM

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