Thursday, June 27, 2013

68-32 and Autopsy (A Certain Immigration Update)

 A daily dose of immigration-related links collected by Fred Bauer
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Passing the Senate 68-32, S. 744 got 14 Republicans, 52 Democrats, and 2 independents who caucus with the Democrats.  No Democrat---whether he or she ran against amnesty or in favor of border-security first or to defend the working class---voted against the measure.  After the passage of Corker-Hoeven, this bill also got precisely zero votes on further amendments to the bill.


The Gang of Eight controlled this immigration bill from beginning to end.  The Senate judiciary committee was stacked with Gang allies, and Corker-Hoeven was written in conjunction with the Gang.  The Gang did a very good job of politically maneuvering this bill.  The CBO report last week caused some real turbulence for S. 744, but Corker-Hoeven's promises of border enforcement and many giveaways helped push the bill over the top.

Of course, recent reports have made clear that the White House held ultimate veto authority over much of this bill.  Thanks to the work of the Gang, the White House has gotten what it wanted in this bill.  There's a reason why Democrats in the Senate supported it uniformly.  The president and his allies have so far been able to convince various left-leaning groups to ignore their misgivings about income inequality, worker exploitation, and border security in order to give the administration a big domestic win.  As they did with Obamacare, Senate Democrats have walked the line for the president.

Many Republicans, centrists, and pro-worker Democrats seem to hope that the House will stop this bill.  Speaker Boehner's statement that he will only support an immigration conference bill if it has a majority of Republicans backing it might increase those hopes.  But, if you read between the lines of this thorough Jonathan Strong piece on House immigration politics, you might see that some GOP members still have an appetite for passing some bill, even a fairly "comprehensive" one.  Paul Ryan seems to be taking on more and more of a role supporting a bill that has a combination of legalization, guest-worker programs, border security, and changes to the legal immigration system.  Despite the rhetoric that the Senate immigration bill is DOA in the House, S. 744's basic structure might still have some legislative life in it.

Speaking of rhetoric...

Rubio offers a final statement supporting his immigration bill---but didn't really get into the specifics of this bill, instead talking about his family history and the glory of America.  (John McCormack writes, "Rubio's passionate, eloquent support for bill containing path to citizenship almost as passionate, eloquent as past opposition to such bills.")

Schumer ended in a similar vein:  "Immigrants have been an essential component to our American success story. To reject this basic truth in this vote today would be a direct rebuke to the lady who shines so brightly in New York's harbor."  So the senator from New York seems to be saying that to vote against S. 744 (which could very easily harm the wages of recent immigrants) is to reject the value of immigrants in American society and the Statue of Liberty.  Schumer's not exactly leaving room open for respectful disagreement.  Is he accusing skeptics of this bill of being anti-American?

T. A. Frank has not been co-opted by the Obama administration.  Writing in The New Republic, Frank argues that those on the left should be concerned about this bill's effects on low-wage workers:
If I have a plea to my fellow liberals more broadly, it’s that they focus more of their empathy on fellow Americans being left behind. Because we increasingly live in bubbles, many of us are at best only abstractly aware of how cruelly circumstances of unskilled Americans have deteriorated over the past few decades.  Even as these Americans have lost their well-paid manufacturing jobs, Washington has looked the other way while millions of low-skilled unauthorized immigrants have competed with them for low-skilled service jobs. The insouciance of privileged Americans toward the effects of this on life among less-privileged Americans is, in my view, a betrayal of citizenship.
If we are to have any hope of regaining any control over our own immigration policy—which is to say, our destiny as a nation—then we must ensure that everyone has an incentive to follow the laws on who gets to be here and who does not.  Otherwise, we will shred the few remaining safety nets we have, and the dream of dignity for all American citizens will slip farther and farther, perhaps permanently, out of reach.  No matter how magnificently Chuck Schumer claims the contrary.
(Programming note: I still plan on following the immigration bill debates in Congress.  If/when the time seems appropriate, new updates will be sent out, but I can't guarantee a daily mailing.  So keep an eye on your inboxes, and thanks for reading!)

(Link to this issue here.)     

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