U.S. Sens. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., have joined Reagan administration Attorney General Ed Meese in drawing a line in the sand, saying the “comprehensive immigration reform” bill from last year is dead if it is reintroduced this year.
DeMint, Sessions, and Meese yesterday suggested bipartisan negotiations over comprehensive immigration reform have broken down, and that means the Senate has failed to reach a compromise.
DeMint and Sessions were outspoken in expressing their views that Democrats in control of the Senate have failed to reach out to Republicans in negotiating and drafting an immigration bill expected next week.
DeMint and Sessions stressed that the reintroduction of last year’s comprehensive immigration reform bill into the Senate has, at this time, no Republican senator sponsoring the legislation. And they said the American public this year appears to place a higher priority on border security.
Wesley Denton, spokesman for DeMint, confirmed to WND that DeMint expects the legislation to be introduced next week will be identical S. 2611, the comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced into the Senate last year in the 109th Congress.
Denton further confirmed that yesterday’s news conference could be interpreted as expressing to the Democrats in the Senate and the White House that without support from Republican senators, the immigration plan will be a “non-starter.”
Democrats need 60 votes in the Senate, and Denton said without even a Republican sponsor, any reintroduction of S. 2611 is “dead on arrival.”
At the news conference, DeMint, Sessions, and Meese outlined four principles of what they defined as “responsible immigration reform.”
- National security must be the No. 1 priority. This requires improvements in border security and workplace enforcement.
- Immigration must be a net gain for the United States, not a net loss. This requires attracting those with the skills and enterprise, creating a responsible temporary guest-worker program, and putting responsible limits on the burdens immigrants place on American taxpayers.
- No amnesty. Illegal immigrants cannot be given legal permanent residency or citizenship without first returning to their home country and getting right with the law.
- The U.S. must encourage assimilation, which has always been a strength of America. This means teaching immigrants what it truly means to be an American.
The Republicans said these issues must be addressed for any immigration bill to have any change of winning their support in the Senate.
S. 2611 was sponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., plus five additional co-sponsors. The only Democratic co-sponsor was Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. Republican sponsors included John McCain, R-Ariz., Sam Brownback, R-Kan., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and Mel Martinez, R-Fla.
S. 2611 passed the Senate on May 25, 2006, by a vote of 62-36. Among the 62 senators voting for the bill were 23 Republicans.
But the bill died when it could not be reconciled with H.R. 4437, a much tougher piece of immigration legislation sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. It was passed by the House on Dec. 16, 2005, by a vote of 239 to 182, with more than 90 percent of the Republicans voting supporting the bill and more than 80 percent of the Democrats opposing.
S. 2611, known in the 109th Congress as “Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” contained President Bush’s proposal for a guest worker program defined as a path to citizenship for many of the millions of illegal immigrants currently in the United States.
H.R. 4437, known widely as the “Sensenbrenner bill,” called for building 700 miles of fence along the U.S. Mexican border.
In a separate Democratic Party news conference held on Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., along with Kennedy and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., announced their decision to reintroduce S. 2611 for Senate floor debate next week.
Edwin Meese, III, and Matthew Spalding, Ph.D., the director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies, have posted on the Heritage Foundation website a position paper entitled, “Where We Stand: Essential Requirements for Immigration Reform.”
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