What: All Issues : Aid to Less Advantaged People, at Home & Abroad : Immigrants : S 1348. (Immigration overhaul) Kyl of Arizona amendment that would modify the cutoff date for backlogged green card applications/On agreeing to the amendment (2007 senate Roll Call 194)
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S 1348. (Immigration overhaul) Kyl of Arizona amendment that would modify the cutoff date for backlogged green card applications/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 194     Jun 06, 2007
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Loss

This vote was on an amendment by Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., that would allow those who applied for certain visas before Jan. 2007, who could reasonably expect to receive a green card by 2027, to be eligible for new visas the underlying bill would create.

The amendment was offered to a bill intended to overhaul America's immigration system. Among other things, the bill establishes several new temporary and permanent visas in an effort to encourage the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States to legitimize their residency.

Kyl's amendment was offered as an alternative to an amendment offered earlier by Robert Menendez, D-N.J., that would have moved from May 2005 to January 2007 the cutoff date for those currently in the backlog awaiting green cards. Menendez said his amendment would have erased a provision in the underlying bill that would mean pending green card applications filed after May 2005 would be cancelled and they would not be allowed to reapply.

The bill drew the cutoff date at May 2005, Kyl said, because there is such a large backlog of green card applications that people who applied after that time have no "reasonable expectation" of being permitted to immigrate. He said the government declared that there was such a large backlog of applications that they would not process them if they were submitted after that date.

Kyl said that Menendez's amendment would jeopardize the bipartisan compromise that allowed the bill to be brought to the floor at all. He said his amendment would address Menendez's concerns without jeopardizing the compromise bill.

"[The] amendment stretches the date out to 2027. It says: If you had a reasonable expectation, based upon your category of immigration, the country you are from, the lines that currently exist with that country, if you had a reasonable expectation within the next 20 years you could have made it into the United States, then you get to come in under a family visa. That is extraordinarily liberal—everybody who really had an expectation that they could make it," Kyl said. "The effect of my amendment and the Menendez amendment is almost identical in terms of the number of people who would be allowed to come to the United States. There is only a 3,000 difference out of about 600,000 people. So we are not reducing the number of people. We are making it accurate as to who can actually come."

Menendez said Kyl's amendment is a "figleaf" offered to provide people political cover on a difficult issue.

"It does nothing to preserve the right of those people who filed and who are now being snuffed out," Menendez said. "It would guarantee that they would go to the back of the line, a line in which there are people who didn't follow the law, obey the rules, violated the law, and they will be in the back of the line with them."

By a vote of 51-45, the Senate adopted Kyl's amendment. All but one Republican voted for the amendment: Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. Democrats largely voted against the amendment, though five voted for it. Thus, the bill went forward with language that would allow those who applied for certain visas before Jan. 2007, who could reasonably expect to receive a green card by 2027, to be eligible for new visas the bill would create. (Menendez's amendment was later defeated.)

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