What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Immigration Law Reform : S 1348. (Immigration overhaul) Ensign of Nevada amendment that would alter the evaluation system for awarding green cards/On agreeing to the amendment (2007 senate Roll Call 196)
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S 1348. (Immigration overhaul) Ensign of Nevada amendment that would alter the evaluation system for awarding green cards/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 196     Jun 06, 2007
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on an amendment by John Ensign, R-Nev., that would alter the structure of a program created by the underlying bill. The program would create a merit-based system for permanent residency. This would be administered through a points system that takes into account an applicant's employment status, education and other factors. Ensign's amendment would give those who were educated in science, math and engineering more points than are currently allocated by the underlying bill. The amendment was offered to a bill intended to overhaul America's immigration system.

"So my amendment says we are going to reward those in the sciences, those in the technical fields, those who have a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. We are going to give you enough points to virtually guarantee entrance into this country. It is a good thing. It is why the high-tech community is supporting my amendment," Ensign said.

Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., opposed the amendment, saying it would unfairly penalize lower skilled workers – such as teachers, managers and other professionals.

"The Ensign amendment absolutely emasculates [the merit system] and virtually closes out all of the low-skilled possibilities for people who might come on in as temporary workers or may come on in under other provisions of this legislation. Under the Ensign amendment, all of those individuals, the lower skilled, are effectively eliminated and closed out, make no mistake about it," Kennedy said.

The amendment was rejected by a vote of 42-55. The majority of Democrats voted against the amendment, with the exception of seven. Most Republicans voted for the amendment, but 13 voted against it. Thus, the bill went forward without language that would have altered the structure of the bill's merit-based system for obtaining certain visas.

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