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March 14, 2006

Senate Action Thus Far

From: Maurice BelangerMaurice Belanger, Director of Public Information, National Immigration Forum
mbelanger@immigrationforum.org
Web: http://www.immigrationforum.org
http://www.communityresourcebank.org

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee met twice to consider amendments to the draft comprehensive immigration reform legislation written by the Chairman of the Committee, Arlen Specter (R-PA).

On Wednesday, the Committee often fell short of the quorum needed to vote on amendments. That was an intermittent problem on Thursday as well.

The Committee has proceeded through Titles I and II, having to do with border and interior enforcement. Among some of the amendments passed were an amendment by Senator Cornyn to provide reimbursement to states and local governments for training and equipment costs related to the enforcement of federal immigration laws (for those localities that agree to enforce federal immigration laws); an amendment by Senator Sessions to require the detention of “Other than Mexicans” who are apprehended at or between ports of entry; an amendment by Senator Grassley that would ensure at least a minimum number of enforcement personnel allocated to each state; a Brownback amendment regarding foreign doctors working in areas that are currently under-served; a Coburn amendment mandating expedited removal within 100 miles of the border for persons apprehended within 14 days of entry; and a Feinstein amendment exempting asylees and refugees from the passport fraud provisions in the Chairman’s Mark.

Several other amendments, good and bad, were offered, some passed, most were deferred. Senator Sessions announced his intention to offer several more amendments relating to enforcement, including amendments related to state and local enforcement of immigration laws.

Timeline: The Committee is still under pressure to complete consideration of the bill before the Senate leaves for Spring recess at the end of this week.. The Committee resumes action on Wednesday March 15. Sometime on Wednesday or Thursday they are slated to get to Title VI, having to do with how the undocumented population will be treated.

If the Committee fails to complete its consideration of the bill, there is still a threat by Senator Frist (R-TN), the Senate Majority Leader, to bring up his own enforcement-only bill on the Floor of the Senate when the Senate returns to Washington at the end of March.

Civics Lesson: A Grand American Tradition

Throughout our history, when groups of people have been attacked by politicians of the day, they’ve organized and fought back to protect themselves. We are in one of those periods where many of our politicians are trying to cash in on anger being stirred up by talk radio and megalomaniac television personalities. These politicians may find, however, that the cash comes with a very high interest rate.

Immigrants and their advocates are organizing to fight back, and they are beginning to be noticed.. Here is how last week looked from here:

§ On Tuesday, the local immigration coalition, the National Capitol Immigration Coalition organized a rally in front of the Capitol that turned out 30,000 people. If you were listening to the Judiciary Committee markup, you may have heard Senator Durbin refer to that rally.

§ On Wednesday, all around our offices near Capitol Hill, everywhere you turned there were people with white t-shirts provided by the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, which organized approximately 2,400 people mainly from Boston and New York to lobby for the Kennedy/McCain bill.

§ By Thursday, the call-in day set by the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, action alerts sent by dozens of networks were ricocheting around the internet, including one sent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to its 100,000-person list. On a nationwide call organized by the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform that took place on Friday, some callers reported that their Senate offices told them that the offices were getting a lot of calls.

§ Sending us home for the weekend on a high note, the folks in Chicago organized a demonstration in that city on Friday that turned out 100,000 people, according to police estimates.

There were more such actions around the country before, during, and after last week. To see who else has been organizing activities, see the calendar of events on the Web site of the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform:

http://www.cirnoworg/content/en/calendar.htm

If you know of events being planned that are not on the calendar, contact Kate Shaughnessy at: kshaughnessy@cirnow.org.

We have a long way to go, but it feels like the ball is starting to roll…

Action Alert: Call the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday March 15

…and so let’s keep it rolling! Following is an action alert sent by the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform:

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT SENATE MEMBERS CONTINUE TO HEAR OUR VOICES! The Senate Judiciary Committee will continue to review and revise Senator Specter's (R-PA) draft immigration bill ("Chairman's Mark") this Wednesday and Thursday.

Call Senator Specter, the Judiciary Committee Chair, on Wednesday, March 15 and let him know:

§ I support realistic, humane comprehensive immigration reform.

§ I oppose legislation that creates a permanent, second-class of workers who will never have a meaningful path to citizenship; the "Gold Card" proposal is unacceptable.

§ I believe the Judiciary Committee should not have to work under an arbitrary deadline set by Senator Frist (R-TN) and should have all the time it needs to bring forth a REAL comprehensive immigration reform bill.

You can contact Senator Specter's Judiciary Committee office at: (202) 224-5225

For more information on the "Gold Card" proposal, please visit:

http://www.cirnow.org/content/en/specter_030206.htm

Posted by VisaLawyer at March 14, 2006 08:36 AM

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