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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy


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Well, it wasn't even close so my earlier prediction that the CIR cloture vote would be a squeaker proved pretty far off base. While I'm disappointed the process is over since I was looking forward to seeing what the House would do on CIR, it's hard to get too sad about the departure of what was a pretty bad bill. The H-1B taxes, the point system, the silly touchback system are all ideas best left on the trash pile of immigration bills that died in the years past.

Don't look for the House to try and revive CIR. I think that today's vote effectively will end such an effort until after the next election.

But this is not the end of immigration legislation. It's just the end of trying to fix everything in one massive bill. Look for momentum to swing toward a tough enforcement bill that combines elements of Titles I, II and III of the comprehensive bill (namely, border enforcement, interior enforcement and an employment verification system). I'd also look at standalone legalization bills (DREAM, AgJobs and perhaps a return to 245i or 3/10 year bar repeals or penalties) as well as legalization (SKIL Act and health care professionals). And the floodgates are now opened to dealing with a variety of small immigration measures that were held up until CIR lived or died.

So who are today's big losers?

First and foremost are the Republicans. Scared witless by a very vocal minority (and that minority is much smaller than many people think if you study the polls closely), most Republicans caved in and some became very vocally anti-immigrant during the debate. Some would say that Reid may have been playing the Republicans and hoping for just this result. By playing tough to get a more pro-immigration bill than Republicans could live with, he effectively forced many Republicans in to the anti-immigration camp.

Why bother? Because the bigger picture looks incredibly bleak for the GOP given the short term mistake they've made of playing the anti-immigrant card. There are 30 million Hispanic Americans and 600,000 or so becoming citizens every year. New immigrants vote for Democrats at a rate of 3 to 1 and the overall Hispanic electorate shifted their vote from 44% for the GOP in 2004 to 30% last year. Look for that number to plunge. If Hispanics start voting for Democrats as other groups like blacks or Jews, Republican seats all over the country will be lost and the GOP will be plunged into a long period in minority status. It's hard to see how they come out of this death spiral for a long time. Look for Democrats to pick up as many as a half dozen more seats in the Senate in '08 given how many GOP seats are up and how unhappy the country is with the GOP and the war.

The other big, big, big loser is organized labor (particularly the AFL-CIO). Organized labor has been in trouble for years in the US and their only serious hope for a revival was with the infusion of a large number of immigrant laborers. But now the unions are quite likely to be burdened with the reputation of being anti-immigrant and efforts to organize workers who will inevitably become legal (and they WILL eventually become legal) will be impeded for years by the reputation of unions as being nativist. The AFL-CIO was on board on the bill for most of the ride, but the switch in the last few days will be the only thing people will remember.

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  1. Yea Right!'s Avatar
    With all due respect Mr. Siskind, the reason these republicans voted "No" was because they are afraid of losing the election next year. After all look at these new democrats, Webb, MaCaskill, and Tester, they took seats over from Republicans and seem more anti-immigrant the the ones they replaced. It's not these senators, it's the voters behind these senators who are so anti-immigrant they might as well be decendents of Hitler. Hispanics and other minorities, no matter how large, do not vote in primary elections and therefore will never get an Senator or house member that will help them.

    I mean forget about CIR, if they would just lift these stupid 10 years bars then people like my husband would be more then happy to just leave and wait back home for their numbers to be current and immigrate legally. If nothing else, we hope these senators, this year or next, at least have some common sense and lift these bars. And after all, was'nt it Clinton himself that signed this stupid law placing these bars on people, what the hell was he thinking? I for one am going to stay home next year, and would never vote repubican or democrat, it does'nt matter anymore.
  2. N S's Avatar
    CIR,in any form will not be 100% palatable to any one in the Senate/House. The compromises involved are heavy and we witnessed today that the number of votes required to move forward are in double digits. Either the CIR should be broken down into pieces or the Senate/House should have minority GOP for any sort of comprehensive reform to pass.
    The death of this bill is good for legal skilled immigrants suffering from retrogression and huge green card backlogs. At least we won't be buried under the flood of Z visa processing.
  4. Lily's Avatar
    Mr Siskind i was reading that the House might be taking up CIR where would that go and could the president still can sign a bill into law, the article is on The Hill Website.
  5. R. Lawson's Avatar
    Why do you think the AFL-CIO was supporting this? Everyone from there I spoke with opposed the bill.

    Are you sure you didn't mean a different labor group?
  6. 's Avatar
    at least get rid of the 3/10 year ban, this will reduce at least some ilegal immigrant who benifitted from the 245(i) but still waiting for thier number to be current. But if thier plan is to round up 12 million but raiding meatpacking and agriculutral buisnesses, forget about it, attrition won't also work since they will just try to break beaople, do not underestimate their spirit, some of them risk their lives. I hope the American people at least the majority will get rid of the GOP and these still KKK affiliated senators.
  7. conrad's Avatar
    I just feel sorry for those who don't have any legal channels and workng hard i our fields, this is their only hope, specially from those who OTM, at least the Mexicans can go back since our border will be still porous.
  8. Myopic's Avatar
    I overstayed my tourist visa over 1 years ago and would have hoped to benefit from this bill. Now I guess Ill have to get married. In ten years I didnt marry anyone trying to legalize myself. I wanted to do it "myself". I have US born children with US born men. The US government doesnt help me in anyway to provide for my children. Nor do their american fathers.
    This bill was a hope for me but it had such ridiculous provisions that frankly Im glad it died. What does it mean for me? It means I keep doing what I do...raising my 4 children and working under the rador.
    Too those who are rubbing their hands togethger with glee...the points that Mr. Siskind made was very on point. You may have won the battle but your too slow to realize that you lost the !I dont know which americans were polled but the americans that I know werent so much as against the bill but apathetic. They feel that government doesnt know how to govern so why bother. Like Mr.Siskind said the mirnoritys voice was the loudest but it isnt the last voice to be held. I am going to be very happy to watch Democrats win office next year and take over the senate and house in a way that was only seen years ago. Remember in the UK Margaret Thatcher and her hoodlum group of conservatives(very similar( to the Republicans were in power for years then one day the british public woke up and voted them OUT. I was one of those who voted for the one and only time and got Maggie OUT of office to prove a point..that my vote counted.
    I hope all the young americans who will be eligible to vote in the next elections do the same thing because they were reaised with hispanic students and they wont be so easily riled up like their older xenophobic counterparts.
  9. 's Avatar
    I think Mr. Siskind is overstating things a bit. True, this was definitely a dream issue for the Democrats. The Republicans were damned either way they voted. But the Republicans will get some good law and order ads out of this next election. For example, voting down the Cornyn (I think) amendment that would keep all illegals guilty of sex and weapons offences from getting amnesty. That will let the Republicans reinforce the perception that the Dems are soft on crime and are not protecting women from creeps. Also many Dems voted to kill this bill, so the blame can be spread around. The Dems ticked off organized labor quite a bit on this one too. So much for all the volunteer labor union support next election.

    Americans are all over the map when it comes to immigration and amnesty. Polls that phrase the questions about amnesty in slightly different ways get totally different responses. This tells me there is a lot of ambivalence about the issue, but the core of the Republican party was dead set against this, and they are crucial to the Republicans. I think the next election will be the same as all others. Events close to the election will be paramount and CIR will largely be forgotten.
  10. Gustavo's Avatar
    The funny thing about this is that Republicans have secured what they feared the most. By turning every Hispanic into a Democrat, they have ensured that we will have a United States of Latin America for generations to come.
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