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Senate stalls, problem remains
An editorial / By Dale McFeatters
Scripps Howard News Service


June 10, 2007

Last month, a bipartisan group of senators emerged from weeks of meetings to announce a "grand bargain" on immigration reform. Their fellow senators didn't find it so grand, and on Thursday night the chamber fell 15 votes short of even agreeing to bring the bill to a final vote.

The defeat was an embarrassing rebuff for President Bush, made more so because it was administered by his own party. It was a victory only for those who are comfortable with the status quo on immigration for another couple of years.

gif Immigration Reform Bill

Immigration Reform Bill Attacked From All Sides
By RJ Matson, Roll Call
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

The longer reform remains in limbo the less likely it is to pass before the 2008 election. And the Senate isn't even the biggest hurdle; immigration reform is much more controversial in the House.

For the moment, U.S. immigration policy consists of building more walls and barriers and hiring more border agents. But even support for that is likely to wane without the help of lawmakers who favored border barricades only as part of an ultimate broader reform.

The problem with the reform bill is that it has something for everybody to dislike, especially the path to citizenship -- denounced by conservatives as "amnesty" -- for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants here now.

Maybe, as the critics charge, it does reward illegality, but they offer no other solution other than the wishful hope that if the feds badger those 12 million enough they'll eventually give up and go home. And there's no practical or humane way to deport, to use a popular comparison, a population the size of Ohio's.

Some Republicans complained that they were not given enough time to amend the bill to their liking. Perhaps so, but the Senate voted on over 40 amendments, and GOP Whip Trent Lott complained that the bill would "die of endless amendments."

There's something to that. Some amendments were offered in hopes that they would be deal killers. An agreement to halve the number of temporary workers to 200,000 and end the program after five years cost employer support.

Immigration reform failed last year under a Republican-run Congress, and now it has failed again under a Democratic-run Congress. Bush is urging Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid to try again, and Reid has indicated he may do so. Perhaps the third time will be a charm, but don't bet on it.


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Ketchikan, Alaska