May 20, 2006

1. Last Week in the Senate
2. Urgent Calls Needed–Legalization Orange Card Amendment
3. Urgent Calls Needed–Civil Liberties Update

1. Last Week in the Senate

George W Bush injected himself into the Senate debate with his speech and trip to the border in an attempt to push the debate to the right. A series of
amendments to the Hagel-Martinez bill were voted on. So far, the negative content of Hagel-Martinez has not been changed, and some additional negatives have been added on. However, the most extremist Republican amendments were defeated.

An amendment to complete border security before any legalization issues could be considered was defeated. The number of guest worker visas was lowered to 200,000. An amendment to eliminate the ability of guest workers to self-apply for green card permanent residency was defeated. An amendment to deny Social Security payments to undocumented workers who become legal residents was defeated. An amendment making English the official language of the country was passed, followed by passage of an additional amendment that declares English as the common and unifying language passed., insuring that bi-lingual requirements will remain. A partial fence along the border was pushed through.

We have to stay with the immigrant rights movement and keep fighting through on the amendments to Hagel-Martinez in the Senate. If a bill is passed there, the next step will be to place pressure on the conference committee where the Senate bill will be reconciled with the Sensenbrenner Bill HR 4437. This difficult struggle also highlights the importance of working in the elections to change the composition of
Congress this November.

2. Urgent Calls Needed–Legalization Orange Card Amendment

There is a real struggle going on in the Senate, with the issue of legalization at the center. We have to join with others to send immediate messages to our Senators, and keep the pressure on. Call 202-224-3121 to reach your Senators via the Capitol switchboard.

The most positive amendment is expected to come to the floor on Monday. The Feinstein Orange Card amendment replaces the three-tiered system for undocumented immigrants in Hagel-Martinez S. 2611 with one single process that applies to undocumented immigrant who have lived in this country since January 1, 2006. A national call to Support Legalization for All urges phone calls to the Senate on Monday.

3. Urgent Calls Needed–Civil Liberties Update

Several bills will be offered next week to remove some of the attacks on civil liberties and repressive items that deny due process in the Hagel-Martinez bill S 2611. These are described in the attachment below from National Immigration Forum:

Date: May 19, 2006

To: Colleagues interested in Civil Liberties and Due Process Issues

From: Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia (National Immigration Forum)

Re: Civil Liberties Update

Immigration Reform Bills: Update and Resources

Immigration Reform Bills

The Senate immigration debate continues. Over the past week, several amendments have been offered and voted on.

Advocates continue to arm Senate staff with analyses, amendment language and talking points on both affirmative and defensive amendments. Attached is a partial list of amendments. Here is a short list of positive due process-related amendments that may come up next week:

Brownback-Lieberman Amendment: provides safeguards and protections for asylum seekers and immigration detainees

Lieberman Amendment: protects certain vulnerable populations from prosecution under new document fraud provisions

Feingold Amendment: strikes the provision that would virtually eliminate the ability for immigrants to obtain a stay of removal while their cases are pending in federal court

Biden Amendment: preserves removal relief for certain victims of domestic violence and other vulnerable populations

Below are some documents on the compromise and possible fixes. Clearly, this is not an exhaustive analysis of every concern we have with the compromise.

Analysis, Examples and Proposed Amendment Language for a Proposed Humanitarian Waiver (Attached): This document provides a 101 on why a humanitarian waiver is needed and includes specific examples of people who could benefit. While the preference is to strip out harsh penalties in title II, what is needed at the very least is a discretionary waiver.

Immigrant Rights Committee
Political Action Commission


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