Friday, September 29, 2006

Down to the wire

Ever pulled a "all-nighter" to finish some homework or a school assignment? Congress' procrastination may lead them to do one tonight. This is the last week before their recess before the November elections.

With only hours left in this session of Congress, your elected officials are working feverishly to actually get some work done on immigration reform. It's debatable, however, whether or not their actions will result in true immigration reform that recognizes the human rights of immigrants.

The Border Fence bill is barreling through Congress. It passed the House and then the Senate was set to debate it. Senator Bill Frist moved to stop all debate on the bill ("filed for cloture") and in a vote on the issue of continuing debate, his side narrowly won on wasting no more time before voting. A few senators wanted to add ammendments that would have added flexibility to the implementation but Senator Bill Frist also took the parliamentary step of filling all the slots for possible amendments so that nothing could be added to the bill.

With all the congressional maneuvering to achieve something,/anything to show voters, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) blasted the fencing measure. He told the Los Angeles Times: "They think this simple bumper sticker will work, but it won't. It's a crass political effort by those more interested in saving their seats than securing the border."

On a related note, you may have heard about the negotiations over President Bush's treatment of "enemy combatants" during the past few days. The Senate passed the legislation today. There are many immigrant rights advocates concerned that last-minute changes could mean that provisions could also apply to immigrants inside the U.S. The concern stems from the vague language in the legislation about who is an individual who done hostile acts as well as the suspension of habeas corpus.

Dennis Hastert's attempt to add a gang-suspicion amendment to the Defense spending bill failed. Congress is slated to vote on the Defense appropriations bill tonight at 3:00 a.m. but it looks likely that they'll vote on it first thing Saturday morning.


It looks like Congress will be open for business on Saturday so try calling your Senator (202.224.3121) and ask them to vote "no" on the Secure Border Fence bill. Tell your Senators that the enforcement-only approach taken by the House of Representatives will only make the immigration situation worse. Ask them to support a comprehensive approach to immigration reform.

Also call Arlen Specter (202.224.4254) and THANK him for opposing efforts to tack enforcement-only ammendments onto the DHS appropriations bill.