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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

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Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Sen. Trent Lott Commended for Backing Immigration "Reform" Bill

This is Sidney Salter's column of June 27, 2007, which was not posted on The Clarion-Ledger's website. It was titled "Lott's immigration compromise vote was tough vote for sanity."

After getting pounded in Washington and here at home for his past support for the U. S. Senate compromise immigration reform bill, Mississippi's Republican junior senator stepped up Tuesday [June 26] and voted to support it again.

U. S. Sen. Trent Lott, R-Pascagoula, voted Tuesday to resume Senate debate on a stalled immigration measure to grant legal status to some of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already living and working in this country. [Note: The number is probably closer to 20 million.]

Lott's GOP colleague, Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Oxford [who is up for re-election next year], voted against reconsidering it. The Senate vote was 64-35 to revive the controversial legislation, which still faces formidable obstacles in the Senate from conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats who want to amend it.

Supporters needed 60 votes to pass the bill. A similar test vote earlier this month only got 45 votes, only seven of them Republicans. But on Tuesday, 24 Republicans joined 39 Democrats and one independent in support of the measure. Opposing the bill were 25 Republicans, nine Democrats, and one independent.

The Associated Press reported key elements of the bipartisan immigration measure [Anything that's "bipartisan" is bound to be a good deal-- right?]:

~~ Allows illegal immigrants who were in the country as of Jan. 1, 2007 to gain a "Z visa" if they pay fees and fines and pass a background check. Allows them eventually to get on a path to citizenship after waiting in line, paying more fines, holding down jobs and learning English. Heads of households would have to return to their home countries to apply for green cards.

~~ Creates a new temporary worker program that would allow up to 200,000 guest workers per year to enter on two-year Y visas that could be renewed twice, provided they returned to their home countries for a year between each stint. It sunsets the program after five years.

~~ Prevents the Y and Z visa programs from taking effect until security and enforcement triggers are met, including adding 20,000 border agents, 370 miles of fencing, 300 miles of vehicle barriers, and a new worker verification system to prevent hiring illegal workers. It provides $4.4 billion to fund the measures.

~~ Creates an employment-based point system for new immigrants to qualify for green cards based on their education and skill levels, and eliminates or limits visa preferences for family members of U. S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

Criticism of Lott on the immigration issue has been across the board from conservatives and liberals alike. But Lott has not been deterred from his position that America can no longer afford to ignore immigration or wink and nudge at it.

On the FOX News Sunday TV program with Chris Wallace on June 24, Lott said: "We need to make sure we know who these people are, where they're going, that there's a job for them, that they are not treated like animals, and that they have to go back to their homes of origin.

"I really haven't changed. But I am trying to get a result here. Look, the people in-- I have been in Congress for 35 years representing the people of Mississippi.

"They know that I would not consciously do anything that would hurt my state, but also I want to do the right thing for my country. And I do think they are compatible in this instance."

The Senate compromise immigration bill is just that-- a compromise designed to bring sanity to an insane proposition-- that borders that have been porous for more than 200 years can be made secure with the stroke of a pen. They can't.

Immigration reforms like the Senate bill are a good start. Lott's decision to forego political popularity for sound public policy should be commended.

Contact Perspective Editor Sidney Salter at (601) 961-7084 or e-mail ssalter@clarionledger.com.

I can't imagine why 1) this outstanding column was not posted by the paper online, or 2) such a wonderful bill was defeated by the Senate.

Sidney must be a male, since one rarely encounters a bald-headed female.

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