Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Senator Cornyn tries to sneak one by

Today Senator Cornyn tried to introduce an amendment to an appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security that would have placed arbitrary and absurdly short deadlines on courts deciding what relief to provide in immigration cases.

According to Josh Bernstein at the National Immigration Law Center, the "if the amendment is enacted, there would - as a practical matter - often be no remedy when the government violates constitutionally guaranteed rights or the requirements of immigration laws, not because any given case lacks merit, but because the courts will not have time to make a considered determination. Plaintiffs are rarely the cause of lengthy court proceedings, but under the amendment they would bear the entire burden of a court's inability to meet the new deadlines. The amendment would also work to the detriment of other pressing civil cases, some of which would have to be pushed back to accommodate immigration cases with arbitrary new deadlines and unnecessary extra court dates."

While the paragraph above might sound overly technicalcal, suffice it to say that it would not be good for immigrants and their cases in immigration court. What this maneuvering reveals is that some Congressional representatives are determined to get their anti-immigrant measures passed, even without fanfare but when they think no one is looking. This strategy of attaching anti-immigrant amendments to must-pass bills could be glimpse of the future if immigration reform fails in Congress this year. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has openly said that he will use this strategy if Congress fails to pass anything.

For now, it looks like this amendment will fail since Cornyn does not have the necessary votes to defend it from a "point of order" or exclusion from the appropriations bill. For more information on this amendment, contact Josh Bernstein at the National Immigration Law Center,, (202) 216-0261

ACTION STEP: If your Senator is on the Appropriations Committee, you can call him or her (202.224.3121) and tell them to vote against Cornyn's amendment.