Thursday, April 06, 2006

Senators discussing "process" for new bill

Things are moving fast in the Senate. All the buzz is about the new "magic formula" Hagel-Martinez compromise bill. Apparently the Specter bill didn't have the 60 votes so it could be considered for a full vote so it died. Democrats like Ted Kennedy were worried that Frist's enforcement-only bill would be the substitute so they decided to get behind the Hagel-Martinez compromise bill.

Advocates haven't yet seen "any paper" (the actual bill) but we do know a little about parts of it. The new bill has a revised plan for the 12 million udocumented immigrants depending on when they arrived in the US. Title 2, which contains all of the draconian enforcement measures, is still in the new bill. We understand that the DREAM Act is still in there too.

According to Cecilia Munoz of NCLR the discussion right now focuses on is the process ahead for the bill. There are two concerns.

1. Senators are discussing rules for how the bill will be considered. There are lots of ugly anti-immigrant amendments out there that some senators want to add once the bill is introduced. To maintain the compromise, the Senate leadership wants to ensure that nothing is added to make the bill worse for immigrants. They're trying to figure out a way to keep these bad amendments from being added.

2. Senators are also discussing what will happen if the bill is passed and then goes to a Conference Committee where it will be reconciled with HR 4437, the Sensenbrenner bill. Senators want to protect the bill from radical changes that might happen if the Conference Committee tries to make it fit with HR 4437. They are seeking an agreement that the integrity of the Senate bill will be maintained in conference.

Friday is the last day before the Congressional two-week vacation so senators want to get this out of the way. It's not clear that the process concerns above will be resolved yet so it could still fall apart. Friday will tell...

ACTION STEP: Call your Senators at 202.224.3121 and tell their staffer that "I oppose the enforcement provisions of the Hagel-Martinez bill. No bill that contains draconian enforcement provisions can truthfully be a “pro-immigrant".