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.