Si Se Puede Catches a Big Break

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 5/18/2007 12:39:00 AM
Immigration-friendly forces in the US scored one over the Buchanan/Dobbs/Tancredo (B-D-T) "America is for Americans" xenophobic crowd today as the Senate and the White House agreed to pen a more lenient measure than the originally conceived Z Visa. That said, the House is loaded with B-D-T folks so this immigration reform proposal is by no means guaranteed to get passed. Among other things, it's a move to a skill-based points system alike what they have in Australia and Canada, somewhat mitigating concerns that America will be overrun by unskilled workers. From the LA Times:
A bipartisan group of senators reached agreement today on an immigration reform bill that would allow millions of illegal immigrants to gain citizenship and create a new merit-based system that will determine whether some legal immigrants are admitted.

The agreement, negotiated with the intense involvement of the White House, brings President Bush one step closer to a domestic goal that he has championed for years. It also sets the stage for a divisive debate that some lawmakers hope to complete by Memorial Day.

"This plan isn't perfect, but it's a strong bill and a worthy solution," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) said at an afternoon news conference...

The rough outlines of a deal have been circulating and include a "Z visa" that would allow illegal immigrants to transition to citizenship, provided they meet many requirements.

These include a $5,000 fine that can be paid over time, processing fees for the visa, and a requirement that the head of household return to their home country within eight years.

The bill also includes the Dream Act, a provision for illegal immigrants, who were brought in as children and are enrolled in college or the military. They would be immediately eligible for the Z visa. As long as they remain employed or in school and do not have a criminal record they could become eligible for legal permanent resident status, a step toward citizenship, in three years...

The plan would also reconfigure the system for future legal immigration, setting aside 40% of future visas to be allocated on a merit-based system that awards points for education and skills that are needed in the U.S. These could include high-tech skills as well as low-tech talents that are in demand.

Si se puede (Yes, we can!) Julia Preston over at The Lede also has a good summary of US immigration issues. Meanwhile, Capital G (Bush) had this to say:

I want to thank the members of the Senate who worked hard. I appreciate the leadership shown on both sides of the aisle. As I reflect upon this important accomplishment, important first step toward a comprehensive immigration bill, it reminds me of how much the Americans appreciate the fact that we can work together -- when we work together they see positive things.

Immigration is a tough issue for a lot of Americans. The agreement reached today is one that will help enforce our borders, but equally importantly, it will treat people with respect. This is a bill where people who live here in our country will be treated without amnesty, but without animosity.
3/18 Update: Tempering optimism, Businessweek points out that this piece of legislation makes compromises that may not satisfy a whole lot of folks:
The compromise may end up being little more than an opportunity for politicians to pose in front of television cameras. It is a step forward in terms of process, allowing debate to proceed in the Senate in the weeks ahead. But with critics pushing for so many changes in so many different directions, the proposal may do little to increase the odds of final legislation. "We are pleased that the process is moving forward," says Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigrant National Immigration Forum. But there are "problematic elements in the package that could undermine the purpose of the bill."