***Update 9:25pm Eastern:*** The Grand Schemers have settled on amendments to the shamnesty bill in a bid to win over the wafflers:
Sixteen of the two dozen amendments the Senate will consider attaching to a revived immigration bill come from senators who helped derail the legislation earlier this month. A list of the proposed changes obtained by The Associated Press illustrates how key Republicans and Democrats plotting to revive the measure before the Fourth of July recess are trying to placate critics by holding votes to address their top concerns.
The proposals range from bids to make it more difficult for illegal immigrants to gain legal status to attempts to give family members of U.S. citizens more opportunities to immigrate….One senior aide close to the discussions predicted that as many as 24 Republicans would back moving ahead with the bill under the scenario envisioned — compared with just seven GOP senators who did so previously…When the bill would hit the Senate floor was in doubt amid a troublesome debate on energy legislation that threatened to push the immigration bill into next week.
Democrats have begun an elaborate series of procedural maneuvers to allow a test-vote as early as Thursday night on a new version of the measure that includes a $4.4 billion “Immigration Security Account” designed to address the concerns of wavering Republicans.
Meanwhile, GOP hard-liners urged President Bush, an enthusiastic backer of the bipartisan Senate measure, to enforce immigration laws, including those providing for expedited deportation for certain illegal immigrants.
Here’s the press release from the House Immigration Reform Caucus on some new, amnesty-free initiatives:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Immigration Reform Caucus Chairman Brian Bilbray (R-CA) joined Congressman Peter T. King (R-NY), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, and Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, to unveil two new border security and immigration initiatives—a comprehensive border security and immigration reform bill as well as a resolution calling for full enforcement of all current immigration laws. The two new measures represent a strong ‘Security First-No Amnesty’ alternative to the Kennedy-Bush Senate Amnesty bill.
“We decided to take action today rather than wait for the Senate to pass an amnesty bill the American people clearly do not want,” Bilbray said. “There is no reason why Congress shouldn’t take immediate action to secure our borders, strengthen our immigration laws, implement true interior enforcement and establish a working employer verification system.”
The Secure Borders FIRST (For Integrity, Reform, Safety and anti-Terrorism) Act of 2007 will mandate operational control of all our borders and ensure better enforcement of current U.S. immigration laws.
“First and foremost, we must gain control of our borders, and the Senate bill fails to do this,” King said. “Furthermore, against the wishes of the American people, the Senate bill would provide almost immediate amnesty for an estimated 12 million illegal aliens here in the United States. These are serious issues that would only serve to weaken the security of our country.”
“The immigration status quo is intolerable. Not because our immigration laws are broken, but because they are not vigorously enforced,” Smith said. “Immigration enforcement has failed primarily because Administrations for 20 years have not enforced sanctions on employers who hire illegal immigrants. Our resolution calls on the Administration to enforce employer sanctions systematically, not just sporadically.”
The bill also reforms the H-2A Visa program to allow for a market-based number of temporary agricultural workers each year. The legislation does not provide amnesty, or the legalization of aliens illegally residing in the United States, and would make English our nation’s official language.
“By reforming the H-2A program we already have in place, we can better enforce our immigration laws while ensuring American farmers have the workforce they need,” King said.
Furthermore, House Republican leaders have introduced a resolution calling for the enforcement of all immigration laws points out a number of current laws that are not fully enforced. This includes implementing both the entry and exit portions of the U.S. VISIT program, enforcing the employer sanctions that were enacted as part of the “Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986,” and increasing the number of Border Patrol agents, detention beds, and immigration investigators.
Bilbray added, “The practice of rewarding illegal behavior and ignoring current immigration laws must come to an end. No one believes that you can grant an amnesty first and enforce the law second. What part of illegal is hard to understand?”
“The Administration claims we have a de facto amnesty now,” said Smith. “That’s true and it’s the result of the Administration’s own lack of determination to enforce the law. We don’t need amnesty to enforce current law; we need to enforce the law to eliminate the need for amnesty.”
“If Congress is serious about border security and immigration control, then this is the solution,” King said.
Meanwhile, some of the Blue Dog Dems are pushing their own enforcement-first proposals.
Loud Folks come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and parties, Sen. Graham.
The bill’s authors, Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Peter King (R-N.Y.), cast their bill as a challenge to the immigration legislation the Senate is expected to take up again this week.
King derided the Senate bill as a danger to national security because it would not secure the borders. He said its provision allowing illegal immigrants to eventually gain citizenship was “against the wishes of the American people.”
“We want to stop the Senate amnesty bill in its tracks right now,” King said.
Go to it.