Naeem — Senate Immigration Battle

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Compliments of Shobak:
The US Senate continues consideration of amendments to the
comprehensive immigration reform bill.
Some Key Amendments
Inhofe Amendment: English the “national language” of the U.S. The
amendment states that, unless specifically required by law, no person
has a “right” to have government services or materials provided in a
language other than English.
Additionally, the Inhofe amendment strikes the option that an
undocumented immigrant who is applying for legalization, or a
participant in the temporary worker program who is self-petitioning
for permanent residence show that he or she is “satisfactorily
pursuing a course of study” in English and civics. Instead, these
individuals will have to meet the requirements of persons applying for
naturalization (they will have to know enough English and Civics to
pass the naturalization test).
The amendment also contains provisions that may make the
naturalization test (for persons applying for citizenship) more
Passed after several hours of debate by a vote of 63 to 34.
Tighten the requirements for documenting eligibility for the
legalization program.
Late Thursday evening, there was an amendment offered by Senator John
Cornyn (on behalf of Senator Jon Kyl, R-AZ) that provided another test
for the coalition of Democratic and Republican Senators who have been
backing comprehensive reform in the Senate. After some drama
concerning the White House’s position on the amendment, the coalition
beat back yet another attempt by hardliners to gut comprehensive reform.
The Kyl amendment would have prohibited persons participating in the
temporary worker program from ever adjusting to permanent status. If
approved, the amendment would have deleted a key worker protection in
the temporary worker program: the ability to adjust to permanent
residence (for those who want to remain in the U.S.) and thus to not
have to depend on a particular employer for continued status. Senator
John McCain offered a motion to table this amendment, and his motion
passed by a vote of 58 to 35.
For an interesting story on the drama surrounding this amendment, see
the Washington Post story posted on our Web site at:
Contact Your Senators
The above links to the recorded votes on the various amendments will
give you information on how your senators have voted thus far. Please
consider thanking them, or calling them to task, depending on how they
voted. For the week coming up, here are three positive amendments
that may come to the floor. If you can, please contact your Senators
about these amendments.
Feingold amendment on stay of removal:
Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) will offer an amendment to strike a
provision of the bill (Section 227(c)) that would prohibit courts from
staying the removal of an alien who has received a final order of
removal. As the bill now reads, asylum seekers and others could be
removed while their appeals are still pending. The Feingold amendment
deletes that provision.
Call your Senator to urge him or her to support the Feingold amendment
to strike Section 227(c). Section 227(c) would:
nullify the judicial review process by removing people from the
country before their cases have been heard;
send asylum seekers back into the hands of their persecutors and,
possibly, to their deaths; and cause the U.S. to violate the United
Nations Convention
and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, which prohibits the
return of individuals to countries where they will face persecution.
Lieberman amendment protecting asylum seekers from felony prosecution
for using a false passport: Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) intends to
offer an amendment that would fix a provision of the bill that would
harm persons who affirmatively apply for asylum. There is a provision
in Title II of the bill (Section 208) that would make it a felony for
someone to use a false passport to enter the U.S. An exception was
made for asylum seekers who are apprehended at the border, but not for
those already in the U.S. who apply for asylum. Senator Lieberman’s
amendment would make the exception apply to all asylum seekers and
persons in other specially protected groups. His amendment would
prevent the prosecution of asylum seekers for this offense until after
their applications were denied and thereafter leave prosecution to the
discretion of authorities (as opposed to requiring prosecution, as the
bill is currently worded).
Ask your senators to support the Lieberman amendment. Asylum seekers
often cannot obtain proper travel documents to make their escape, and
should not be prosecuted for relying on what documents they can obtain
in order to save their lives.
Leahy amendment on injunctive relief: The compromise immigration
reform bill places unrealistic deadlines on courts when immigrants
seek a court injunction to provide relief in cases where the
immigrants claim they are being harmed by a government decision. If
the bill is not changed, many immigrants will not be able to gain
court-ordered relief, not because their case has no merit, but because
the court will not have sufficient time to consider the case and what
remedies to apply.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will offer an amendment to delete from
the bill the provisions limiting injunctive relief.
Call Senator Leahy’s office and encourage him to go forward with the
amendment. Ask your Senator to support the Leahy amendment on
injunctive relief. Immigrants who suffer from improper decisions by
the government should be able to gain relief from the courts.
You can find the phone number of your Senator’s office here:
“Bush Is Losing Hispanics’ Support, Polls Show”
Also see this editorial from the New York Times:
National Immigration Forum