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With the Immigration Bill Under Fire, Supportes Seek Protection

June 5, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The immigration bill is currently dodging bullets in the Senate. An amendment from Wayne Allard (R, CO), that would have caused some critical supporters of the bill and some who are on-the-fence to oppose the bill, was rejected this afternoon. However, the bill and its supporters are far from safe. A slew of contentious amendments have been offered and are waiting to be voted on.

In an attempt to hold some of these amendments at bay, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, NV) has said that he will force a cloture vote, limiting the amount of time the bill can be debated before coming to a final vote, for later this evening. Sixty votes are needed for Reid’s cloture motion to be approved. If it is approved, the vote will be a good indication that their is a majority in the Senate who, at this point, want to see this bill move forward. Voting for cloture is essentially voting to protect the bill.

That this bill has many problems is — for all intents and purposes — a fact . One hundred and eight amendments have been offered to fix these problems. However, some of these amendments have been offered by senators who believe the bill is broken beyond repair, so their idea of fixing it is to attack its vital components in order to ensure its eventual demise.

John Cornyn’s (R, TX) amendment is a good example. Senator Cornyn (pictured above) has said that his amendment seeks to close a loophole in the bill that would allow terrorists, gang members and sex offenders by expanding the definition of an “aggravated felony.” Cornyn’s expanded definition would include anyone who has entered or re-entered the country illegally or has used fake identification papers. The problem is that this expanded definition would include almost all of the immigrants who are currently in the country illegally. Providing these people a way to become legal citizens, via proposed the path to citizenship plan, is absolutely essential to the bill’s balance. It is one of two counterweight provisions, and if it was gutted by the Cornyn amendment, critical Democratic support would be lost and the bill would be as good as dead.

Amendments like these can threaten the bill by forcing the bill’s supporters into uncomfortable situations. It could be politically disastrous for a senator to go on record against an amendment such as Cornyn’s which , ostensibly, keeps terrorist and sex offenders out of the country. If those circumstances cause the amendment to pass, many more senators will end up voting against the overall bill — including those who voted for the Cornyn amendment — because the part of it that formed the basis of their support, would be nearly irrelevant.

The cloture motion will probably not prevent a vote on the Cornyn amendment, but it may prevent other contentious ones that have been offered from both sides of the aisle. Red State has an abridged list of offered amendments and some analysis of the bill’s support. We’ll be updating as votes on cloture and other amendments take place.

Be sure to keep checking the blog and news articles that are continually rolling in on the OpenCongress immigration bill page

. This bill has inspired an impassioned discourse that goes beyond policy and deep into issue of American identity.

UPDATE: The Cornyn amendment was just rejected 46-51. You can check the roll call to see how your senators voted here. Also, Harry Reid filed for cloture last night, but that motion will not be voted on until Thursday.

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