What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Immigration Law Reform : S 1348. (Immigration overhaul) Dorgan of North Dakota amendment that would put an end date on a new temporary worker visa program/On agreeing to the amendment (2007 senate Roll Call 201)
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S 1348. (Immigration overhaul) Dorgan of North Dakota amendment that would put an end date on a new temporary worker visa program/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 201     Jun 06, 2007
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This vote occurred on an amendment offered by Byron Dorgan, D-N..D., that would put an end date (often called a "sunset date") on a provision in the underlying bill establishing a new guest worker program for immigrants. The amendment would require that the guest worker program end five years after the bill was enacted, unless Congress decided to renew it. The amendment was offered to a bill intended to overhaul America's immigration system.

Dorgan previously offered a similar amendment and lost by one vote. He said this time he had slightly modified the wording (the amendment would exempt some agricultural workers – this particular version of it would exempt one additional type of agricultural worker). Earlier during the bill's consideration Dorgan had also sought to eliminate the program completely, but that amendment failed as well.

The guest worker program in the underlying bill would authorize hundreds of thousands of temporary visas each year for immigrants 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. The visa holder would be allowed to bring family members with them for one two-year stretch, though if they exercise that option it would cost them one of their renewals.

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 disadvantage, among other problems. [penalize lang]

Dorgan said he supports legal immigration through quotas, but believes that the guest worker program is more beneficial to big businesses who want cheap labor than to the American workforce.

Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. and one of the bill's original authors, complained that this is the third time Dorgan has sought to eliminate the guest worker program. "As much as I respect the Senator from North Dakota, he doesn't care more about American workers than I do," Kennedy said. "You may not like the temporary worker program, but we have to have predictability for a period of time. In the legislation are correcting mechanisms for this program. Let us at least give it a chance to work."

During consideration of this bill Kennedy repeatedly voted against Democratic amendments, in most cases arguing that they jeopardized the bipartisan coalition that was able to bring the bill to the floor at all.

The amendment was adopted by a thin margin, 49-48. Republicans mostly voted against the amendment, though 11 voted for it. And Democrats (including the most progressive members of the Senate) mostly voted for the amendment, though 10 voted against it. Thus, the bill went forward including language that would require the bill's new guest worker program to end in five years unless Congress renewed it.

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