Immigration Bill Faces Key Vote on Tuesday

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:23 PM EDT

( - "No double cross on amnesty bill." "A vote for cloture is a vote for amnesty." "You must redouble your efforts to stop the Bush/Kennedy/Kyl/Reid Shamnesty Bill." "It's now or never to kill the bill." "Today is a day of destiny..."

Those are a few of the headlines generated by conservative grassroots organizations eager to defeat the Senate immigration reform bill, which faces a critical vote on Tuesday.

President Bush gave the bill a last-minute boost Tuesday morning, saying Congress has a "historic opportunity" to repair the broken immigration system.

In a news release, the White House said the bill would "uphold America's tradition of welcoming and assimilating immigrants and honoring our heritage as a Nation built on the rule of law. By acting now, we can ensure that our laws are respected, that the needs of our economy are met, and that our Nation treats newcomers with dignity and helps them assimilate," the White House said.

A roll call vote to revive the bill by bringing it to the House floor is scheduled for Tuesday -- some time after 11:30 a.m, said Numbers USA, a group that describes itself as an "immigration-reduction organization."

"On this matter, a senator's 'Yes' vote on cloture is equivalent to a vote for amnesty," said a message on the Numbers USA website. (Cloture would cut off debate and bring the bill to the floor.)

Other groups are sending the same message: "We understand that a 'yes' vote for cloture on Bush-Kennedy is a 'yes' vote for amnesty," said president Steve Elliott.

"Any Senator who votes 'yes' on tomorrow's cloture motion to proceed with this bill will forever be labeled an Amnesty Senator -- even if that Senator later votes against final passage," Elliott warned.

Elliott said his group will be watching for the "double-cross" - senators who vote yes on cloture, but later vote against the bill.

"Grassfire is working closely with an ad-hoc coalition of groups who are 100% united on this point," Elliot said. "There will be no place to hide for any Senator who tries to double-cross the American people on this bill. If you vote for cloture we will brand you with a modern-day 'Scarlet A' for Amnesty."

Grassfire is the group behind those "Where's The Fence?" television ads.

Counting heads

"Contact the Senate," said the American Policy Center, which is counting heads as part of its stated effort to "keep this treasonous bill in its grave."

"This Amnesty Bill, if enacted, will be the largest amnesty granted for illegal aliens in our nation's history. It will be the largest increase in foreign labor in our nation's history. And it will be the largest expansion of social welfare programs in our nation's history. America simply cannot afford it," said Tom DeWeese, president of the American Policy Center.

Critics such as DeWeese warn that the bill will diminish the use of English in America

DeWeese also objects to the way the Senate has handled immigration reform.

"This Amnesty Bill, whether the original S. 1348, or the new S. 1639, has been a shady, sneaky, cowardly effort from the onset. Every effort has been made to circumvent the American legislative process - negotiation behind closed doors, stifled debate, and a rigged amendment process -- all designed to achieve a predetermined outcome," he said.

He says lawmakers have been "stunned" by the "outrage" of the American people.

According to DeWeese, "Roy Beck at Numbers USA reports the following 32 Senators will vote 'NO' on a cloture vote. (32 is short of the 41 needed to keep the bill bottled up.)

Alexander (R-Tenn.), Allard (R-Colo.), Baucus (D-Mont.), Byrd (D- W.Va.), Bunning (R-Ky.), Chambliss (R-Ga.), Coburn (R-Okla.), Corker (R-Tenn.), Cornyn (R-Texas), Crapo (R-Idaho), DeMint (R-S.C.), Dole (R-N.C.), Dorgan (D-N.D.), Enzi (R-Wyo.), Grassley (R-Iowa), Hutchison (R-Texas), Inhofe (R-Okla.), Isakson (R-Ga.), Landrieu (D-La.), McCaskill (D-Mo.), Pryor (D-Ark.), Roberts (R-Kan.), Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Sanders (I-Vt.), Sessions (R-Ala.), Shelby (R-Ala.), Smith (R-Ore.), Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sununu (R-N.H.), Tester (D-Mont.), Thune (R-S.D.), and Vitter (R-La.)

Numbers USA believes that 12 senators are likely to vote "yes" on cloture (to bring the bill to the floor) but no on passage of the bill.

Bond (R-Mo.), Bingaman (D-N.M.), Burr (R-N.C.), Boxer (D-Calif.), Cochran (R-Miss.), Conrad (D-N.D.), Ensign (R-Nev.), Levin (D-Mich.), Gregg (R-N.H.), Nelson (D-Neb.), Hatch (R-Utah) and Webb (D-Va.)

Not perfect but better than nothing

On the other side of the argument, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is urging senators to vote "yes" on the cloture motion.

"While this bill is far from perfect, it is unfair to continue to expose American citizens, businesses and employers to a dysfunctional and broken immigration system. The status quo is clearly unacceptable," the Chamber said in a news release.

The way the Chamber sees it, the immigration reform bill includes increased border security; a path to recruit future workers needed from abroad when there are not enough U.S. workers available; a mechanism for undocumented workers to earn legal status; and a new employment verification system.

The Chamber said it is concerned about the details of some of the bill's provisions - and will continue to work with lawmakers as the legislative process moves forward.

The National immigration Forum, a pro-immigration group, said it is watching the Senate to see if it has "the courage and determination" to tackle immigration reform.

Failure to move the bill forward would have "grim" consequences, the group warned. "It could well mean that a much-needed comprehensive overhaul of our nation's immigration system will be dead for this Congress," said Frank Sharry, executive director of the National Immigration Foundation.

According to the National Immigration Forum, the stakes for "immigrant workers" and their families are high. "They know that if reform fails this week, the coming years are likely to be marked by more deaths in the desert, more workplace exploitation, more knocks on the door by ICE agents, and more state and local policies aimed at driving them deeper into society's shadows. Moreover, they know the pain of explaining to their children why their hard work and sacrifice is viewed by others as criminal."

It is illegal to hire undocumented workers. Sneaking into the country is also against the law, but an estimated 12 million people have done it -- and are now living in the United States.

While President Bush says the system is broken and in need of repair -- many conservatives insist that the first step should be securing the border and sending border jumpers back home to wait in line as they're supposed to do.

A June 11-12 Rassmussen Poll of 800 likely voters found that 69 percent support an immigration bill that focuses exclusively on reducing illegal immigration and enforcing the borders.

And a June 22-24 Rassmussen survey of 1,200 likely voters found that just 22 percent favor the Senate bill. Fifty percent oppose the Senate bill while 28 percent are not sure.

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