S. 744, the immigration reform bill currently making its way through Congress, is in one of its most vulnerable periods of its already-fragile life.
From the left and from the right, hundreds of amendments are flooding the bill. Some are genuinely aimed at improving the bill. Many, however, are "poison pill" amendments, designed to make the resulting legislation unpalatable to one or both of the two sides, thus killing the bill.
Who, then, is the guardian of this legislation, on whom the entire nation's hopes of any immigration reform rely? The original "Gang of 8," the bipartisan group that authored the bill, have pledged cooperation to shoot down any amendment that could threaten the existence of the bill.
Some of the amendments that could completely kill immigration reform are:
DAV13373: Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person who is or has previously been willfully present in the United States while not in lawful status under the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.) shall be eligible for United States citizenship.
This amendment, by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), is like a zombie: if it gets a grip on the main bill, it would turn the entire thing into a brainless waste of life. The path to citizenship is a critical part of the compromise. Without it, this whole bill is just another border security piece.
MDM13298: To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate discrimination in the immigration laws by permitting permanent partners of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the same manner as spouses of citizens and lawful permanent residents and to penalize immigration fraud in connection with permanent partnerships.
Senator Patrick Leahy's (R-Vt.) sixth amendment introduced the issue of same-sex marriage into the immigration bill. You know how immigration is a really hot controversial issue, and how this bill strikes an extremely fragile balance in order to compromise with both sides? What is the fastest way to throw off that balance? Attaching another incredibly controversial issue to it.
MDM13410: To require the use of a biometric entry and exit data system at ports of entry before the Secretary of Homeland Security may adjust the status of aliens who have been granted registered provisional immigrant status.
This amendment, by Senator Sessions (R-Ala.), would have required Homeland Security to implement biometric security (fingerprints and iris scans) in every point of entry into the U.S. It sounds nice, but the amendment has three things against it. First, liberals will call invasion of privacy. Second, it would further delay the immigration process, which is the opposite of what the bill should accomplish. Finally, it would have an estimated $25,000,000,000 (billion) price tag. You know it is over-the-top defense spending that makes a Republican favor $25 billion and makes the Democrats cry fiscal responsibility. And while it failed 6-12 in committee, don't worry, it is coming back. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) promises to fight for it when the bill goes to the floor.
ARM13487: To exclude certain employment of domestic service from the prohibitions on unlawful employment of unauthorized aliens.
Senator Lee's amendment, ARM13487, specifies some of the work he thinks is appropriate for immigrants. He offers unauthorized aliens, otherwise prohibited employment, an exemption to be able to work in such career fields as: "cooks, waiters, butlers, housekeepers, governessess, maids, valets, baby sitters, janitors, laundresses, furnacemen, caretakers, handymen, gardeners, footmen, grooms, and chauffeurs of automobiles for family use." Servants. How generous.
ARM13591: To provide the denial of benefits and removal of terrorist aliens.
Alright, this one wouldn't kill the entire bill. But it is quite silly.
Because in a world where known foreign terrorists live in constant fear of being robot-rocketed in the face by flying death machines, we really need to make sure our legislation is very clear that we aren't giving those people (again, known non-citizen terrorists) citizenship and benefits.