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  1. #1
    Senior Member Brian503a's Avatar
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    May 2005
    California or ground zero of the invasion

    Immigration bills down to wire ... 7836c.html

    Immigration bills down to wire
    Congress has only weeks left to act after months of effort.

    By Michael Doyle -- Bee Washington Bureau
    Published 12:01 am PDT Tuesday, September 5, 2006
    WASHINGTON -- Immigration rancor took no summer vacation.
    Congress held one-sided hearings but avoided negotiations. The monthlong August recess passed, with lawmakers locked in place. And though Capitol Hill revives after Labor Day, immigration legislation appears stymied.

    "As far as I'm concerned, this has been a mismanaged effort at the leadership levels," said Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual, based in Exeter, Tulare County.

    Nelsen and other farm industry leaders started the year with higher hopes.

    Their favored agricultural guest-worker program secured a place on a big Senate immigration bill with the help of a one-time skeptic, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. President Bush insisted a comprehensive immigration bill was one of his top priorities. The Senate committed several weeks to debating and amending the package, a sign of serious intent.

    Now, the Senate returns today and the House returns Wednesday facing a four-week sprint before a pre-election adjournment. Among other obligations, the lawmakers still must negotiate and approve all 12 appropriations bills that will keep the federal government running in fiscal 2007.

    That will soak up lots of energy, and lawmakers are already lagging. Although the Senate passed its 600-plus page immigration bill in May, and the House passed its border security package in December, negotiators still haven't been named.

    "We're down to the wire here," said Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia. "It's going to be pretty tough."

    Even that is optimistic. Democratic Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, a former top Border Patrol agent, flatly predicted that "we're not going to get anything done."

    Nonetheless, Reyes joined Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts in recent days to publicly promote a "comprehensive" bill. This is the code word for legislation that combines border security measures with guest-worker and -- usually -- legalization components.

    "In this kind of situation, the president has got to become more engaged, more involved," Kennedy said. "Without it, we'll have a very, very difficult time."

    The House bill focuses on law enforcement, with provisions like a 700-mile, double-layer fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Senate bill ranges further afield, with guest-worker programs and a complicated three-tiered scheme offering eventual legal status to many of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants now in the country.

    New possibilities are popping up. Every Friday afternoon, for instance, up to two dozen Western agricultural industry representatives have been convening by telephone to swap rumors and intelligence about worker shortages and political prospects.

    One alternative being discussed would combine an agricultural guest-worker bill with border security measures. Broader legalization and employer sanction measures would be left until next year.

    "The other piece is too complicated," said Manuel Cunha, president of the Fresno-based Nisei Farmers League. "The discussion is not to look at the House bill and not to look at the Senate bill, but to look at a new bill."

    But legislative packaging is complicated, too, and even some congressional supporters of the worker plan call it a long shot.

    Cunha spent some seven years helping craft what supporters dub the AgJobs proposal. Now part of the overall Senate immigration bill, the AgJobs package would enable up to 1.5 million illegal immigrants with farm work experience to obtain legal status and, in time, U.S. citizenship. Growers would also win improvements to the existing H-2A guest-worker program.

    The AgJobs package is only one part of an overall Senate immigration bill with staggering implications. In August, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the Senate's overall immigration bill would have a net cost of some $78 billion by 2016 and add 16 million legal U.S. residents during the same period.

    In theory, the House hearings last month might have shone a light on the cost and complexities of immigration proposals.

    "I have no apologies in putting the issue of control of illegal immigration on the national agenda," Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said following a New Hampshire hearing.

    In practice, the hearings were affairs scripted for ideological advantage, starting with how they were billed.

    The Republican-controlled Senate approved the immigration bill, with the support of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and the GOP chairmen of numerous committees. Nonetheless, House leaders insist on referring to the bill solely as the brainchild of Kennedy and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

    A San Diego hearing, for instance, was titled, "How does illegal immigration impact American taxpayers and will the Reid-Kennedy amnesty worsen the blow?"

    Nelsen likened the hearings to immigrant advocates' mass demonstrations earlier this year, which some conservatives say hurt the cause.

    "The effort to have these hearings has done equal damage," Nelsen said. "It's awfully difficult for people to pontificate a position, and then to change that position."

    About the writer:
    The Bee's Michael Doyle can be reached at (202) 383-0006 or
    Support our FIGHT AGAINST illegal immigration & Amnesty by joining our E-mail Alerts at

  2. #2
    boxersbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Chapel Hill North Carolina
    One alternative being discussed would combine an agricultural guest-worker bill with border security measures. Broader legalization and employer sanction measures would be left until next year.
    Ok, so we have over 20 million people living in the US illegally. If that is the case why don't they say to them "You have two choices, either go work on a farm or get deported." We certainly don't need any more to come here to work on farms and then disappear into the community so they can import more to work on farms later.

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