What: All Issues : Aid to Less Advantaged People, at Home & Abroad : Immigrants : S 1348. (Immigration overhaul) Bingaman of New Mexico amendment that would remove a requirement that immigrants leave the country before they can renew a visa/On agreeing to the amendment (2007 senate Roll Call 189)
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S 1348. (Immigration overhaul) Bingaman of New Mexico amendment that would remove a requirement that immigrants leave the country before they can renew a visa/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 189     Jun 06, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

This vote was on an amendment by Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., that would remove a provision in the underlying bill requiring that recipients of new guest worker visas leave the United States before they are able to renew the visa.

The amendment was offered to a bill intended to overhaul America's immigration system. Among other things, the bill establishes a new "guest worker" program. The guest worker program would authorize hundreds of thousands of temporary visas each year for immigrants, including those currently here illegally, who want to work in America. These visas would allow them to live and work in the United States for two years. The visas could be renewed twice, but the recipients would have to return home for a year in between each stay. Bingaman's amendment would remove the reentry requirement.

"I strongly believe it does not make any sense from a policy standpoint and, ultimately, we are going to be judged by how much sense this legislation makes. As I have pointed out, this provision is bad for employers; it harms American workers; it will be difficult and costly to implement; and it will likely encourage these workers, whom we are bringing here as so-called guest workers, to overstay their visas," Bingaman said. He added that it would also be costly to businesses, who would have to retrain and rehire workers every two years.

President Bush and many Republicans, backed by business groups, consider a guest worker program an essential part of any immigration overhaul, feeling that it would encourage many people who currently work illegally to obtain one of the new visas. Many Democrats and organized labor dislike the guest worker program, believing it would not give guest workers a fair chance at earning permanent citizenship and would put American workers at a competitive disadvantage for jobs, among other problems.

Arlen Specter, R-Pa., opposed Bingaman's amendment, saying it would strip out one of the key compromises in the bill. "The principle of this bill is to make it temporary so people do not establish roots," Specter said simply. That is, Specter argued, removing the one year out of country requirement from the guest worker program would make it too easy for immigrants not seeking permanent citizenship to lay down permanent roots.

The Senate rejected the amendment by a vote of 41-57. Almost all Republicans voted against the amendment, though four did not. While a majority of Democrats voted for the amendment, a number (13) opposed it. All of the most progressive senators voted for the amendment, except for Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., who helped write the underlying bill. Through the course of debate on the measure, Kennedy opposed many changes Democrats sought, arguing that the bill was a carefully crafted bipartisan compromise and that changes could wreck the coalition that made it possible to draft a bill at all. Thus, the measure went forward with language requiring those obtaining a new guest worker visa to leave and reenter the country at certain intervals.

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