Thursday, May 11, 2006

It's deal time!

The Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have finally reached a deal on the procedures around the immigration proposal which they hope to pass by Memorial day weekend.

The Hagel-Martinez compromise bill has been held up by concerns about how it would be reconciled with the hard-nosed enforcement-only House version (the infamous HR 4437).

The Associated Press reports that the Senate will send 14 Republicans and 12 Democrats to negotiate with the House, with seven of the Republicans and five
Democrats coming from the Judiciary Committee. Seven of the remaining Republicans will be chosen by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and remaining seven Democrats chosen by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

The other concern has been the addition of nasty anti-immigrant amendments floating around that would make the compromise as draconian as the House version. There has been disagreement about how many amendments will be considered and it's still not clear what this number is. Frist said a "considerable" number of amendments would be debated when the Senate starts discussion again on Monday.

According to AP, Harry Reid said that he "didn't get everything that I wanted in the agreement", but said Frist didn't either. He also said that arriving at the agreement "is not easy with the political atmosphere," Reid said.

Advocates still have lots of concerns about the enforcement measures in Title II of the bill and they plan to ramp up their opposition to these provisions. For example, according to Jay Staunton of Human Rights First, "There is still a real chance to strike Sec. 227(c), the provision Senator Sessions snuck in at the Judiciary Committee level by sleight of hand. This provision, dealing with the 'Stay of Removal', would ship asylum seekers back to their countries of persecution while their asylum claims awaited acceptance by U.S. federal courts."

Staunton and other advocates are asking for support in promoting the Lieberman-Brownback amendment, which would codify recommendations to protect asylum seekers from arbitrary and inhumane detention. "Push support for this amendment at every opportunity." Staunton says.

There are also numerous provisions that would further 'militarize' the border, expand the number detention beds and effectively 'de-legalize' thousands of legally-present immigrants.


Call you Senators TODAY (Tel: 202-224-3121) and tell them that you oppose the Title II enforcement provisions in the bill and you support earned legalization for ALL undocumented people. Tell them that you support the Lieberman-Brownback agreement.