Tuesday, April 04, 2006

"We're still looking to find a magic formula."

This is what Republican Senator Mel Martinez of Florida said today as quoted in the NY Times about the current immigration debate in the Senate. Did he mean the 'magic formula' that would offer real solutions for the broken U.S. immigration system? Did he mean proposals that would help 11 million undocumented people come out of the shadows to become true members of our society? Did he mean a new plan rather than more of the same enforcement that hasn't worked in the past ten years?

Nope. He was talking about a magic formula for a third compromise bill that would be please the majority of Republicans (and possibly Democrats) in the Senate and win them favor with their constituents in up-coming mid-term elections. In the NY Times, Martinez goes on: "We're going to have to find a place where we can all land. What we're all trying to find is something that is common ground enough to get the majority of Republicans on board."

Many hard-nosed Republicans on immigration are not happy with the guest worker provisions that have been (inaccurately) described as an "amnesty" (Never mind that under the plan the vast majority of the 11 million would have scant chance of meeting all the requirements to wait years and years for the mere possibility of a green card...). Some members of the Judiciary Committee want to preserve whatever bi-partisan nature of the mark-up is left.

Meanwhile Bill Frist is still the task master and wants to vote this week on the most ambitious reform of immigration law in a century. He wants to limit discussion on the topic as if the matter doesn't take very serious examination.

So these Senators are trying to decide which bill will ultimately go the Senate floor for a vote: the Judiciary Committee Bill ("Specter's Markup"), Frist's enforcement-only bill or a "third way" compromise between the other two.

Arlen Specter, the chair of the Judiciary Committee is sounding glum. He said to the Times: "It's getting very late in the week to salvage the bill. It's a power struggle now. It's a struggle of wills."

...and politics.


Call the Senate switchboard (202.224.3121) and ask to be connected to your Senators' offices.Tell them that immigration reform is too important to rush and that they should take their time in considering such important legislation.

Call Senator Bill Frist (202.224.3344) and tell him to stop imposing artificial deadlines on the immigration reform legislation and to stop limiting debate. This is too important to rush. You could also mention that you don't support the enforcement provisions and that there is no 'consensus' on this issue.