Immigration bill progress made

WASHINGTON – A proposed immigration overhaul narrowly survived strong Senate challenges Wednesday, boosting its backers’ hopes that the fiercely debated legislation might soon win passage and advance to the House.

Senators first turned back a Republican bid to reduce the number of illegal immigrants who could gain lawful status. Hours later, they rejected a Democrat’s effort to postpone the bill’s shift to an emphasis on education and skills among visa applicants as opposed to family connections.

Both amendments were seen as potentially fatal blows to the fragile coalition backing the bill, which remains under attack from the right and left. The bill – which would tighten borders and give many of the country’s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants a pathway to legal status – is a priority for President Bush.

The long day and night of votes contained some setbacks for the coalition’s leaders, however. They failed to defeat a Republican proposal to give law enforcement agents access to rejected visa applications, which could lead to the arrest and deportation of some illegal immigrants who otherwise might escape detection.

On balance, however, the coalition’s “grand bargainers” felt they had withstood their toughest challenges. “This means people want a bill very badly,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

The Senate voted 51-46 to reject a proposal by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to bar criminals – including those ordered by judges to be deported – from gaining legal status. Democrats siphoned support from Cornyn’s proposal by winning adoption of a rival version that would bar a more limited set of criminals, including certain gang members and sex offenders, from gaining legalization. The Senate backed that amendment 66-32.

The Senate also rejected a proposal by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., that bill supporters called a “killer amendment.” It would have delayed the bill’s shift in favor of attracting foreign workers with needed skills as opposed to keeping families together. Menendez won 53 votes, seven short of the 60 needed under a Senate procedural rule invoked by his opponents.

Menendez’s proposal would have allowed more than 800,000 people who had applied for permanent legal status by the beginning of 2007 to obtain green cards based purely on their family connections – a preference the bill ends for most relatives who got in line after May 2005.

Other amendments defeated Wednesday included a Democratic effort to alter the temporary guest worker program that would be created by the bill.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico wanted to allow workers to come for six consecutive years. The Senate voted 57-41 to reject the amendment, retaining the bill’s call for most guest workers to go home for a year between each of three two-year stints.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record
Freeland resident Kevin Lungren has been commuting to the office using his paddleboard. It's a commute he can do in all seasons and just about any type of weather, except wind.
Whidbey commuter paddleboards his way to work in all seasons

The financial advisor says he’s only fallen off his board twice in the past five years.

Photo by Heather Mayhugh
Stuart Peeples demonstrates how to enter Heather Mayhugh's wheelchair van. In recent months, while navigating the new Mukilteo ferry terminal, Mayhugh has struggled to unload her clients who need access to the restroom.
People with mobility issues find new ferry terminal lacking

Some disabled folks say not enough thought went into improving the Mukilteo facility’s accessibility.

Temporary Lake Stevens Library to open this summer

The location will serve as the Sno-Isle branch until the proposed civic center campus is complete.

$500,000 available for Edmonds nonprofits

Organizations can apply for Edmonds Rescue Plan funds until Aug. 20.

Parts of Snohomish County under weekend heat advisory

Monroe and areas of the county near the Cascades were expected to see highs in the 90s.

Marysville man wins $100,000 in military vaccine lottery

Carmen S., who served in the Vietnam War, claimed his $100,000 cash prize this week.

Tirhas Tesfatsion (GoFundMe) 20210727
State AG says it can’t investigate Lynnwood Jail death

Tirhas Tesfatsion’s family pushed Lynnwood leaders for an independent inquiry. Her death was ruled a suicide.

JaNeen Aagaard donates blood at Bloodworks NW Friday afternoon in Everett at July 30, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Blood shortage strains local agencies, hospitals

Some blood types have reached critically low levels, and blood collection agencies are pleading for donations.

COVID-19 case reported at crowded Lynnwood council meeting

A person who attended the Monday meeting tested positive for the coronavirus just days later.

Most Read