Skip to comments.Ted Kennedy Boosts Immigration Deal
Posted on 05/18/2007 2:58:36 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Congress should coalesce behind sweeping new compromise immigration legislation despite steep political obstacles because opportunities to confront the problem head-on are rare, Sen. Edward Kennedy said Friday.
Kennedy, the lead Democratic negotiator with Republicans and the White House, acknowledged widespread criticism but called it "our last-gasp stand."
The bill, which conservatives immediately attacked as an "amnesty" program, would provide a pathway to citizenship for some 12 million immigrants now in the United States illegally. It also would mandate tougher border security and workplace enforcement and provide for a guest worker program.
Critics complained that it would reward the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants with a way of gaining legal status and staying in the U.S. permanently without being punished. Asked about amnesty on CBS's "The Early Show" Friday morning, Kennedy said, "That's sort of a slogan and a cliche you're going to hear a lot about." He said fixing the nation's "broken borders" is long overdue.
The bill would allow illegal immigrants to come forward right away, but they could not get visas or begin a path to citizenship until the border security improvements and a high-tech worker identification program were put in place.
After that, illegal immigrants could obtain a renewable "Z visa" that would allow them stay in the country indefinitely. After paying fees and fines totaling $5,000, they could ultimately get on track for permanent residency, which could take between eight and 13 years. Heads of households would have to return to their home countries first.
The compromise agreement marked an extraordinary marriage of liberal and conservative goals that has the potential to bridge stubborn divides. But prospects are uncertain.
For example, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said he will move to kill the guest worker program because it would hurt American workers.
Presidential politics could also complicate the deal's chances. Fissures among the candidates started emerging swiftly after it was announced.
"I don't know if the immigration legislation is going to bear fruit and we're going to be able to pass it," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who harbored "serious concerns" about the deal.
Even if it were to survive what's certain to be a searing Senate battle, the measure would be up against long odds in the House.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., acknowledging deep divisions on immigration among Democrats, says she won't bring it up unless President Bush can guarantee he will produce 70 Republican backers - a tall order given GOP concerns that the bill is too lenient.
The deal came under attack from a set of lawmakers and interest groups as diverse as those that united to craft it. Their varying concerns and competing agendas - along with a challenging political environment - could be enough to unravel the painstakingly written agreement.
Two of the key players in the talks from each end of the political spectrum, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, walked away from the deal before it was announced.
"What part of illegal does the Senate not understand? Any plan that rewards illegal behavior is amnesty," said Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Calif., chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus.
Liberals, on the other hand, are unhappy with the proposal because it makes a far-reaching change in the immigration system that would admit future arrivals seeking to put down roots in the U.S. based on their skills, education levels and job experience - limiting the importance of family ties.
"We have concerns about the historic shift away from family unification as the backbone of our immigration system," said Kevin Appleby of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Immigrant advocacy and labor groups also oppose the terms of a new guest worker program in which low-skilled immigrants would be forced to leave the country after temporary stints and would have limited opportunities to stay and get on a path to permanent legalization.
"Without a real path to legalization, the program will exclude millions of workers and thus ensure that America will have two classes of workers, only one of which can exercise workplace rights," said John J. Sweeney, the AFL-CIO president.
Many liberal groups, which revere Kennedy as his party's decisive voice on immigration, reserved judgment on the deal, calling it a good starting point and holding out hope of improving it during next week's Senate debate. But they also voiced substantial worries.
Jorge Mursuli of People For the American Way said the measure "departs radically from America's immigration tradition of putting family reunification first. This bill also includes a future worker program that is destined for failure." Mursuli nonetheless called the plan a "solid start."
-—Teddy Kennedy’s final legacy-—the death of the United States of America-—
Presidential veto please.
I would only support the bill if Ted Kennedy personlly transported illegal aliens across the Rio Grande.
Give it to the swimmer. What a skilled legislator he is, although he uses it to destroy the country. Imagine what someone with this kind of drive on the Republican side can accomplish.
Conservative goals????????????????? More like 'an extraordinary marriage of liberal-Democrat and liberal-Republican goals'.
“Many liberal groups, which revere Kennedy as his party’s decisive voice on immigration, reserved judgment on the deal, calling it a good starting point and holding out hope of improving it during next week’s Senate debate.”
The only way to “improve” this bill would be to scrap it.
I’m sorry, but the only solution is to return the illegals to wherever they came from and secure our borders so they and new ones don’t come in.
Surely you can't be serious.
W wants to sign this bill in the worst way.
Poppycock. There are plenty of other approaches to take.
Can you point out to me where in the Constitution it says that Teddy Kennedy has absolute power over the United States Government and has the ability to force a Republican President and GOP Senators to adopt his amnesty plan?
I don’t see where Kennedy is forcing anyone. Seems to me that the President and most of the rest of the powers that be in Washington want this stupid plan.
Have you ever worked one of the comedy clubs in LA or NYC?
Let us know when you are going to be on Letterman. You are really, really funny!
Any time you deal with Kennedy and make ANY deal you are getting screwed.
You’d have thought President Bush would have learned after he let Kennedy write his education bill. Spent too much money with NO results.
NO way to this abysmal bill.
Just curious; If 12 million people started robbing banks would that also lead to amnesty? Well what are we waiting for? Let`s start robbing! YEAH! So what if it`s against the law, EVERYONE is doing it!
I DEMAND airlifts and truck runs. I am so mexicaned out. These ungrateful....PICK UP YOUR LITTER!!!!!
I’ve just emailed and faxed my Congressidiots, but I’m from Oregon so I know it will just fall on deaf ears. I’m so livid...
Yes, I understand that. It is easy to blame Teddy but Dubya is eating it up and will happily sign this bill.
Notice that all the employers who hired illegal aliens in former times get off the hook. That’s the amnesty that counts and it’s worth millions of bucks to all the politicians who came up with this piece of legislation.
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