Immigration Bill Dead—For Now (And Why I’m Glad)

The New York Times reports that the bill is dead after a cloture vote to end debate failed: “After a day of tension and fruitless maneuvering, senators rejected a Democratic call to move toward a final vote on the compromise legislation after Republicans complained that they had not been given enough opportunity to reshape the sprawling bill.”

And by “reshape,” they apparently mean “tack on a bunch of conservative amendments.”

A GOP Aide, who’s one of my sources in the Senate, gave me the rundown on what happened to the Senate bill today.

After the 2nd cloture vote failure at noon on Thursday, Harry Reid could not get unanimous consent to call up amendments to the bill because Jim DeMint refused to give his consent.

…While DeMint was gumming up the works, the opponents of the bill, including most prominently Jim DeMint, Jeff Sessions, and Tom Coburn, huddled and came up with a list of conservative amendments they wanted considered.

…Eventually, after the process was tied up all afternoon and failed a third cloture vote, Harry Reid yanked the bill even though the opponents of the bill said they were willing to stop gumming up the process as long as all the amendments they wanted were voted on today.

Obstructionist wankers. That’s the perfect example of a Republican compromise: Do everything the way we want, or we won’t play.

Thing is, while that’s totally annoying from a philosophical standpoint, as regards the actual policy, I don’t really give a shit, because it’s a bad bill.

I’m deeply unhappy with the decision to leap-frog employment skills ahead of family relationships, with regard to the attributes given preference in legal immigration decisions. Of course we need skilled workers, but we also need to continue our long and hugely successful focus on immigrant families, which has made America an immigration success story in a way many other countries, who—surprise—favor employment skills, are not.

Historically, our basic premise has been that it’s more valuable to the country in the long run to have (for example) one Chinese engineer and her parents than three Chinese engineers. This practice has worked because it provides greater stability and support to each individual skilled worker, which makes each individual skilled worker that much more productive and successful, and greater stability and support to immigrant communities, which make each immigrant community that much more productive and successful. And it also has the added bonus of decreasing the number of immigrants who come to work, make lots of money, and then return to their countries of birth, taking their resources with them.

There are both practical and compassionate reasons to have favored this practice throughout our history, and I’m truly disappointed we’re abandoning it in favor of an immigration policy that doesn’t value people as much as their skills, and doesn’t consider what it means, practically or compassionately, to isolate desired immigrants from their families.

It was Corporate America, which doesn’t concern itself with anything but a bottom line, that agitated for this change—and whether an immigrant engineer is more productive, successful, and likely to stay if his parents are with him isn’t reflected in The Books, so it isn’t considered. And one of the most interesting things about this issue to me is that lots of the big companies base their advocacy on the premise that they are having trouble finding all the people they need in fields where you will routinely hear there are a glut of workers (i.e. some specific type of programming). How can there be a dearth and a glut at the same time?

Well, the short answer is that there can’t be. Not nationally. But what’s starting to happen is that we’re getting lots of people in progressive fields crammed into progressive areas of the country, leaving corporate giants located in really conservative areas desperate for workers. Concurrently, we’re getting lots of young people moving the hell out of really conservative areas, abandoning the backwaters from whence they came so unanimously, that the areas can’t find workers for mill jobs, mining jobs, etc. (Some coal mines in West Virginia are offering six-figure salaries to miners now—and still no one’s taking the jobs. Black lung is a steep disincentive, I guess.)

In Indiana, the proposed same-sex marriage ban amendment was defeated in no small part because the state’s four biggest employers argued to the state congress that they’re already having a hard enough time attracting young workers with cutting-edge skills as it is, and overt hostility to the LGBT community, including preventing them from extending partner benefits, would make it even worse.

Our country is beginning to tear apart at its purple seams because the “moral values” of Red Country are anathema to many workers in progressive fields and a huge swath of the generation just entering the workforce. Corporate America foolishly turns to immigration policy to solve this problem at their own peril. Staying this course will, inevitably, result in an American brain drain, as Blue Country can’t sustain everyone who refuses to work in states where conservatives’ beloved federalism has made some states properly unlivable for LGBTs, pro-choice women and men, people who don’t want their kids taught creationism in school.

So, I’m not mourning the death of this bill. It will come back, and I hope when it does, the undermining of our historical immigration success will have been reconsidered.

Hope springs eternal.

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21 Comments

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21 responses to “Immigration Bill Dead—For Now (And Why I’m Glad)

  1. oddjob

    I believe it also would have, for the first time, created a system of “guest workers”, another issue that has caused trouble in other countries that have used it, no?

  2. Melissa McEwan

    I believe it also would have, for the first time, created a system of “guest workers”, another issue that has caused trouble in other countries that have used it, no?

    Yes, that’s correct. It has indeed caused trouble in the countries that have used it, namely because it effectively uses people for their skills and offers them nothing in return. Except, you know, a paycheck, which, as we all know, isn’t the end-all-be-all (or even the most important thing, most of the time) to any job.

  3. Plus, there are public health implications when men are away from their wives for long periods, as shown in Africa, where the upsurge of HIV has been linked to immigrant mine workers.

  4. the immigration bill but good hearted, but wrong-headed. first of all, the reason that we have the “problem” described is that the laws in place are so fucking stupid that people simply disobey them. the choice that is offered to the migrants is simple, you can stay home and watch your family and your children starve slowly or be murdered in the various and sundry political/gang/drug wars, or you can risk all on a chance to actually live like a human being.

    the “border security” we have in place has already driven the already desperate migrants so far off the beaten track that they are, as we speak, dying of thirst in the deserts between the border and the jobs. increasing the security and making the crossings harder has produced the “cross and stay” type of migrant. the guys who used to come up, follow the cantaloupe harvest (or lettuce, peaches, whatever) then go home and share the wealth with their family now have to stay, work construction, wash dishes, or do what ever else they can. they are sending less money home because they are now also raising the money to pay the smugglers (who weren’t a necessity before the clamp downs) to bring the families here.

    380 pages of washington bullshit will not solve the “problems.” armed white vigilantes riding around on four-wheelers, who vandalize and poison water stations won’t solve anything.

    rational discourse between nations, concrete political and economic development, these are what is needed.

    oh, bloody fucking hell! we have republicans in office. that means the solutions are impossible.

  5. oh, yeah, and there was a program back in the 50’s and 60’s called los braceros which was shut down when it was discovered that the growers were using what was supposed to be a mutual benefit arrangement as an excuse for temporary slavery.

  6. Kate217

    &#$%^# hypocrites!!!

    On the one hand, they fight equal marriage/adoption rights because each of de widdle baybeez “has a right to a mother and a father.” On the other, they don’t prioritize families in immigration because it doesn’t directly pad the bottom line. Of course, they never think of the poor baybeez stuck in Mexico or China or India while one of their parents comes to America to earn money. Maybe it’s just teh little white baybeez with “the right to a mother and a father.”

    What’s ironic is that a happy employee is more likely to be productive and creative, so morale does affect the bottom line, but since they can’t quantify that benefit, they deny that it exists.

    Fookin’ wankers.

  7. Melissa McEwan

    All true. Thank you muchly for weighing in on the part of the bill dealing w/ illegal immigration, MB. Much appreciated.

  8. Arkades

    Our country is beginning to tear apart at its purple seams because the “moral values” of Red Country are anathema to many workers in progressive fields and a huge swath of the generation just entering the workforce.

    Tell me about it. As soon as my husband and I can afford to leave, we’re gone.

    Unless things change so radically that we’re legally recognized as a couple with full and equal rights, we have no desire to remain in this country.

  9. It is ironic that corporations would become sensitive to GLBT issues when they realize that the states that gave them the store in terms of tax incentives and lots of other goodies to locate their plants there are having trouble hiring people who don’t want to work in a state that is hostile to the employees themselves.

    In Florida the immigration bill was pretty much a non-issue because a lot of the people who would be impacted by it get a free pass under the Cuban Adjustment Act: if you get to dry land in the U.S. from Cuba, you basically get to stay. That’s thanks to the powerful lobby of the Cuban-Americans and their ability to muster the votes by bringing up Castro and his regime, as if Cuba is the only non-Jeffersonian democracy in the hemisphere.

    That is ragingly unfair to the Haitians or anyone else who manages to make it to the toll plaza on Key Biscayne’s Rickenbacker Causeway. If you’re from Havana, they greet you with candy and a stripper. If you’re from Port-au-Prince, you’re on the next flight back.

    Tell you what: if they revise the immigration bill as you’ve described it, Liss, and they include a repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act and Helms-Burton (which made the Cuban embargo into law), I’d be all for it.

  10. Melissa McEwan

    include a repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act

    Should it include a repeal, or extend the Act to include refugees from Haiti, etc.?

  11. Berle

    Tody,6/8/07, The Washington Times reports that “Foreign nationals make up nearly 90 percent of the …persons arrested in connection with crimes against children, including pornographers and molesters, under Homeland Security’s Operation Peredator.” page three. The full truth of this nation’s immigration problem ia very dark indeed amd needs exposure on the blogosphere.

  12. Melissa McEwan

    The full truth of this nation’s immigration problem ia very dark indeed

    Hmm. Or maybe it’s that the “full truth” of this nation’s criminal justice system is “very dark indeed.”

    Btw, “foreign nationals” isn’t code for “illegal alien.” Foreign nationals include people who came into the country legitimately, so even if that statistic is correct and inexplicably not at least partly attributable to unequal application of the law, it’s a commentary on our immigration system as much or more than our immigration “problem.”

  13. and what of the people in line already?
    like my spouse?

  14. Melissa McEwan

    I imagine they will be grandfathered in. The laws/procedures regarding the fiancée visa process changed while Mr. Shakes and I were going through it, but it didn’t affect us because we were “in process.”

  15. Pingback: Legislation that nobody liked, finally dies « cannablog

  16. It was a bad bill that nobody liked.

  17. Brynn

    Minstrel Boy, was that hyperbole, or are the vigilantes really poisoning water in the desert?

  18. Im4Bill

    No way this bill is dead..the new point based system for Green Card is just RIGHT..though not many ppl know about it..this site has an online calculator for GC points !
    http://www.ready4greencard.com

  19. include a repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act

    Should it include a repeal, or extend the Act to include refugees from Haiti, etc.?

    I’d settle for extending it, then you’d basically be overriding the immigration bill itself by saying that anyone — Haitians, Jamaicans, Mexicans — who can make it to try land in Florida gets to stay.

    What I’d really like to see is the lifting of the embargo with Cuba. We’re the only country with it still in place, and it has had the exact opposite of its intention: all it’s done is give Castro someone else to blame for his dreadful economy and more excuses for cracking down on dissidents.

  20. brynn, it wasn’t hyperbole at all. it’s happening out there right now. i have sent, through shakes, a more detailed description of some incidents that have personally involved me.

    what kind of soul less motherfucker would destroy or, even worse, contaminate water in the desert?

    well, let’s just say that the minute men overwhelmingly vote republican and are foursquare behind tom tancredo.

    that’s the kind of soul less motherfucker we are dealing with.

  21. Berle: isn’t the Dept. of Homeland Security tasked with preventing terrorism? And isn’t the interpretation of that mandate that the danger comes from abroad? Leave aside for a second that whole assumption. What it means is that DHS is looking primarily at foreigners. How is it then surprising if 90% of their arrestees are foreigners?

    Most sex crimes are dealt with at the state level, unless the perp has crossed state lines AND it’s a particularly newsworthy event. 😦 So, if you want the actual proportions of types of perps, you’d have to go through all the state records as well as DHS and FBI.

    One of my relatives is a child trauma and sex abuse specialist. (Now *there’s* a depressing job.) Judging by her experience, it’s pretty much white males to a somewhat higher extent than their proportion in the population.

    Abusers of kids are very disproportionately males rather than females. That’s a fact nobody even disputes. Yet oddly enough, I’ve never heard any media reports about the need to, say, have men always closely supervised by an adult female unless they’re safely behind lock and key.

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