Breaking: Bush, Senate leaders reach immigration agreement; Update: “I don’t care how you try to spin it, this is amnesty”; Update: Illegals slam bill as too onerous

posted at 1:15 pm on May 17, 2007 by Allahpundit

Fox News and MSNBC are reporting that the hour of reckoning is at hand. Stand by for details, although I think we already know most of them.

Update: “Quick legal status.”

A bipartisan group of senators reached agreement with the White House Thursday on an immigration overhaul to grant quick legal status to millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S. and fortify the border against new ones…

It set the stage for what promises to be a bruising battle next week in the Senate on one of Bush’s top non-war priorities.

The group of lawmakers had been haggling over the terms of agreement for weeks were reviewing language negotiated Wednesday night in efforts to nail down a deal. Among the final sticking points was a stubborn dispute over how much family ties count toward green cards under a new “point system.” The plan prioritizes advanced skills and education levels for future immigrants.

Update: The formal announcement is at 1:30. Reuters has a few of the basics already; it looks like the GOP won the battle over whether illegals can bring extended family with them.

The legislation would create a temporary worker program that would require laborers to return home after a period of time. Tough border security and workplace enforcement measures would go into place before the temporary worker program, congressional aides said.

The proposal would limit family-based migration to immediate family members and establish a merit-based system by which future migrants could earn points for skills, education, understanding of English and family ties.

Update: Michelle is posting reaction and points to a WashTimes report from last night that claimed Bush was ready to cave on safeguards that would prevent fraud in the guest-worker program. She also links to a point by point rebuttal of the GOP talking points at Lone Wacko.

Update: Quote of the day:

Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, said he had doubts about this approach, but said Congress had to do something because his constituents were telling him that “they feel they are being overrun with uncontrolled immigration.”

The irony is that most Republicans would accept a compromise on the back half of the equation, even if it meant legalizing large numbers of illegals who are already here, if the party was serious about plugging the leaks in the border. Show us a sustained, good faith effort to secure it and then we can deal charitably with the “undocumented.” Anyone think that’s in the offing?

Update: WaPo has the major details. 400,000 “guest workers” a year. And unless they’ve made an oversight, the English-language requirement for the “Z visa” that would grant permanent legal status has been dropped: “each Z Visa itself would be renewable indefinitely, as long as the holder passes a criminal background check, remains fully employed and pays a $5,000 fine, plus a paperwork-processing fee.”

Update: Near as I can tell (nitty gritty details being suspiciously hard to come by in news reports on immigration), there are two basic innovations to the bill: replacing family connections with a “points system” that emphasizes job skills and education as the key criteria for a green card — which seems odd given the argument about needing low-skilled workers to do the jobs Americans won’t do — and the requirement that the “Z visa” program not be triggered until certain measures have been taken to enforce the border. Question per Lone Wacko: Does that mean actual, concrete improvements in border security or merely passing laws and allocating funds for improvements that are never going to be made, like that nifty border fence they passed last year?

We had a Republican Congress and a Republican White House for six years. Six years, and it’s come to this.

Update: Bush applauds. And I take it back — here’s the line of the day:

“This is what my 9th grade teacher told me government is all about and I finally got to experience it,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Update: The Counterterrorism Blog says it’s a national security disaster:

In short order, the system will be overwhelmed. Whatever minimal fraud detection and prevention safeguards might be erected won’t last long in the face of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of applications and petitions to be adjudicated. What that means is the information provided on those applications and petitions, and whatever supporting documents they may have (if any), will essentially be taken at face value. Whatever the applicant alien tells the adjudicator will essentially be taken at face value. There will be little time or process available to verify anything, perhaps beyond running the applicant’s name through a standard battery of computer databases (and, even that may become so time consuming some will slip through the cracks).

Update: Who among the GOP candidates reaps the whirlwind on this? It’s got to be McCain, right?

Expect Rudy to pronounce himself “troubled” by the deal.

Update: Jim DeMint: “I don’t care how you try to spin it, this is amnesty.”

Update: Tancredo goes right after McCain:

“Senator McCain and his allies seem to think that they can dupe the American public into accepting a blanket amnesty if they just call it ‘comprehensive’ or ‘earned legalization’ or ‘regularization.’ Unfortunately for them, however, the American people know amnesty when they see it,” said Tancredo. “The President is so desperate for a legacy and a domestic policy win that he is willing to sell out the American people and our national security.”

“If Senator McCain and Senator Kennedy spent as much time working on improving border security as they did poll testing creative euphemisms for amnesty, America would be a much safer place,” quipped Tancredo.

Update: Rich Lowry thinks the “triggers” are a scam from the word go, with amnesty granted immediately upon passage of the bill and the “Z visas,” which are keed to the enforcement triggers, only relevant insofar as they allow the bearer to travel. But even if Lowry’s wrong, what happens to the illegals who are here while the feds are working towards the triggers? Let’s say they get bogged down and can’t get them done for another decade. What’s the status of the “undocumented” during that interim period?

Update: Illegal aliens don’t like the bill either, a claim which will doubtless be trumpeted by proponents to “prove” that it’s a fair compromise. Actually, what it proves is that even the amnesty side of it is crap that won’t achieve what it means to.

The sub-moronic “touchback” provision comes in for special abuse:

David Guerra wants to be legal, but he says the path to citizenship offered by the Senate on Thursday would be too risky and too expensive, and could end up driving him deeper into the shadows…

“If I go home, who is going to guarantee that I’ll be let back in?” said the 44-year-old who lays bricks, clears weeds and does landscaping…

“Where would I find $5,000? In two years, I don’t get $5,000,” said Daniel Carrillo Maldonado, an illegal immigrant who was looking for construction work outside a Home Depot in Phoenix…

Amy Ndour, a 23-year-old illegal immigrant from Senegal who lives in New York, said she would be willing to pay the $5,000 fine, but not return home because her family there depends on what she earns as a hair braider.

“I’m helping myself” here, she said. “I’m helping people there too.”…

Many illegal immigrants said they had little incentive to apply for residency because the process was long and did not offer much hope of bringing their families.

“If I’ll never be able to bring my family, why should I apply?” said Jose Monson, a 33-year-old illegal immigrant from Guatemala who has lived in Los Angeles for four years. “I prefer to just stay here illegally.”


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