Immigration bill fails

On June 28, the US Senate defeated a measure that would have limited debate on immigration reform and cleared the way for final passage of a proposed “compromise” bill. The measure to end debate and move forward with the bill got 46 votes, 14 short of what it needed to pass. The measure was backed by 33 Democrats, 12 Republicans and one independent; opposing it were 37 Republicans, 15 Democrats and one independent. One senator was absent. The measure’s failure means that immigration reform is likely dead until after the 2008 elections, according to the New York Times.

The compromise bill had scant support among the public: in a CBS News Survey taken earlier in the week of June 25, 13% of respondents said they supported passage of the bill, while 35% opposed it and 51% said they lacked sufficient information to make a decision. The bill included many harsh and punitive provisions which led many pro-immigrant constituencies and organizations to oppose it, while others sought its passage in the hopes that it could be improved along the way. President George W. Bush had tried to win over fellow Republicans with a personal appeal to support the reform bill, but that effort failed.

The bill’s defeat was largely credited to anti-immigrant forces, which mustered up their grassroots lobbying strength in a fierce campaign against what they see as “amnesty” for out-of- status immigrants. “I think the president’s approach didn’t work,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who saw the bill as too favorable to out-of-status immigrants. Republicans “need to be careful we don’t walk into such an adverse circumstance again. This did not work out well. Our own members were placed in difficult positions.” (AP, 28; NYT, June 28)

From Immigration News Briefs, June 30

See our last post on the immigration crackdown and the legislative battle.