Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Senate considers the House's recent work

The Senate is also getting in on the just-for-show enforcement-only politicking this week.

After the House passed the Secure Fence Act last week, the Senate is considering the bill for approval this week. Can this be the same Congress that for months has dithered on holding a conference committee? Yep, but now November 7 is just around the corner.

The Senate already passed a bill with appropriated money to build a fence on the border. The new House bill has no means to pay for it. As the National Immigration Forum reflects on this development: "The fact that the Senate would again take up a fence authorization bill, when they have already voted on one, is politics, not an effort to bring [reform] to our immigration system."

Columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. points out in an excellent article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, "Fencing sounds good, but it doesn't work. At best, it might redirect human traffic, as it did in the 1990s when cracking down in San Diego and El Paso squeezed more illegal immigrants through Arizona. Besides, as any Border Patrol agent will tell you, there's no fence long enough, high enough or deep enough for the desperate not to go around, over or under it."

But of even more concern, is that Senators who are negotiating spending bills (the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill and the Defense Department Appropriations Bill) may take the House bills mentioned in yesterday's blog post and tack them on to the spending bills without debate. Since these bills fund the operations of Defense and Homeland Security, it will be very difficult for advocates to stop them.

As Rubin Navarrette asserts "Republicans have cobbled together a slate of just-for-show enforcement measures intended to make voters think the illegal immigration problem can be fixed with a little spit and glue." This is NOT the action that the thousands of demonstrators were asking Congress to take: far from it.

ACTION STEP: The National Immigration Forum and other advocates in DC are calling on everyone to call your Senators immediately (202.224.3121) and say the following to their staff:

"Tell your Senator to vote no on the Fence bill, H.R. 6061, and to vote against any other enforcement-only immigration bill that may be considered.

Tell your Senator that he or she should not allow enforcement-only legislation to be attached to spending bills.

Also tell your Senator that enforcement-only will only make matters worse, and that only comprehensive immigration reform will fix our broken immigration system."