Immigration reform starts anew
“If we don’t succeed now, there won’t be another effort until after the presidential campaign,” said California Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Senators met behind closed doors Tuesday afternoon to hammer out a compromise and were not expected to emerge until late in the evening. As the day wore on, several lawmakers said prospects for an agreement were looking increasingly dim. Reid, meanwhile, continued to threaten to kick off debate today regardless of the outcome, and could push forward a Democrat-backed bill that passed last year granting citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants. “I’ve heard the compromise isn’t looking good, and I’ve heard that it is,” said Steven Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies think tank. “I don’t know that there’s anybody that does know, because they may be working feverishly for quite some time,” he said. The curtain is rising on the second act of Congress’ attempt to reform America’s immigration laws. And no one knows how the story will end. For with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid insisting that lawmakers embark swiftly on their second attempt to revamp U.S. immigration policy, there is still no agreement over what to do with the country’s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants or how to address the future flow of foreign workers. Lawmakers and activists alike said time is running out. Meanwhile, Feinstein and Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, made an impassioned plea to include in any immigration reform a provision enabling millions of illegal farm workers to obtain legal status. The measure, originally crafted by Rep. Howard Berman, D-Van Nuys, also reforms and speeds up the nation’s agricultural guest worker program. Growers from across the country barnstormed the Senate on Tuesday pushing for the measure and painting pictures of barren farms empty of apples, asparagus and bell peppers without it. Many complained they have been unable to find workers, despite offering wages of up to $15 per hour. “We simply can not survive on the promise that more workers will show up, or if we pay more the problem will be solved,” said Ella Vasquez, a Watsonville farm owner. [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!