Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Debate losing momentum?

The National Immigration Forum in Washington reports that Comprehensive Reform is losing momentum in Congress.

The Forum says anti-immigrant rabble-rousers are raising the alarm that the Senate bill is some sort of "amnesty" and Congressional offices are being inundated with ant-immigrant calls (at a rate of 400 to 1 against the Senate bill). These "enforcement first" folks have sent more than 2,000 bricks to Congressional offices as a symbol of their desire for a wall built on the U.S. Mexico border. The Forum reports that "The feeling of being under siege is eroding the morale of supporters of reform."

The Forum asserts that these calls have emboldened House Republicans to resist anything but enforcement first. "The House Republicans, who are responsible for the enforcement-only approach embodied by the Sensenbrenner bill, view the Senate bill as a broad amnesty. As they see it, if they support this approach, it will anger their base and depress turnout in the upcoming general election. On the other hand, they view opposition to comprehensive reform as a way to boost their electoral chances. That view was reinforced in the recent election in California to replace the disgraced and now jailed Duke Cunningham. The Republican candidate who won, Brian Bilbray, is a former lobbyist for the anti-immigrant group FAIR. Bilbray used his opposition to comprehensive reform to his advantage and his victory is being widely interpreted by House Republicans and political experts alike that an "enforcement only" stance may well be the more politically viable stance for Republicans going into these hotly-contested mid-term elections."

Meanwhile many immigrant rights advocates have been raising concerns about the Senate bill's flaws... but for different reasons. The chief problem is that everyone uses the word "comprehensive" differently: President Bush, Senator Bill Frist, Senator Arlen Specter, even some immigration advocates. To many in Washington, "comprehensive" means legalization WITH enforcement. AFSC and other advocates think this devalues the word "comprehensive" since it still does not address economic root causes and still-flawed immigration law. [This may be why italics are so over-used in this blog...] See more on this in an article from the Rockridge Institute on The Framing of Immigration.

So, House Republicans are taking a position of no compromise, saying that no bill would be better than one that contains "amnesty." Similarly immigrant rights advocates think that no bill is better than what would come out of a reconcilation of the Senate and House bills with the current provisions.

Stay tuned...


READ MORE: See National Immigration Resources

New Summary of Final Senate Bill.

On their Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation page, see links to other resources.


For example, Who Will be Putting the Mortar on those Bricks? Here is an idea that a private immigration law firm in Baltimore is promoting; a counter to the send-a-brick campaign. It is called "Send-a-Workglove." The idea is to send a work glove to your Senators and Representative, and ask them to recognize the need to reward the hard work of immigrants by passing immigration reform. See Send-a-Workglove