Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Isakson, Chambliss Praise Senate’s Rejection of Amnesty Provision in Emergency War Supplemental Bill

U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., today praised the Senate’s refusal to include an amnesty provision in the emergency war supplemental bill. Language that would have granted legal status to over 1 million illegal agriculture workers and their families was stripped Tuesday night from the spending bill for troops.

Isakson and Chambliss earlier this week had urged the Democratic leader to remove the amnesty provision from the bill.

“There’s no greater domestic issue in this country than illegal immigration, and I am pleased the Senate rejected this attempt to grant amnesty on a bill designed to give our soldiers the resources they need in the War on Terror,” Isakson said. “The war supplemental was the wrong vehicle to deal with this issue and this was the absolutely wrong approach to handling illegal agricultural workers. Congress can make immigration reform a reality by first delivering common-sense solutions to secure our porous borders and stop the flow of illegal immigrants.”

“I’m pleased the Senate recognized that removing this bad provision was the right thing to do,” said Chambliss. “We need to ensure that funding for our troops is approved and delivered as quickly as possible without getting bogged down in an unrelated immigration debate.”

On May 15, the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment to the emergency war supplemental spending bill that would give a five-year visa to 1.35 million workers plus their spouses and dependent children to live and work in the United States. For almost all legal purposes, the amendment requires that the illegal aliens who qualify for the proposed visa be treated as lawful permanent residents.

Adding the amendment to the appropriations bill violated Senate rules because it legislates on an appropriations bill. Last night, Democrats invoked Senate Rule 16 on the floor, which requires that provisions in amendments to appropriations bills be relevant to the underlying legislation. Among the provisions dropped was the proposal to grant visas allowing illegal aliens to hold agricultural jobs for up to five years.

On May 20, Isakson and Chambliss, along with eight other Republican senators, sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., urging the removal of the language. The text of the letter to Senator Reid is below. The letter was also signed by Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., David Vitter, R-La., Tom Coburn, R-Okla., James Inhofe, R-Okla., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., and Jim Bunning, R-Ky.

May 20, 2008

The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington D.C. 20510

Dear Majority Leader Reid:

We write to express disappointment that the Senate Appropriations Committee chose to include in the War Supplemental more than 100 pages of immigration language that would grant legal status to more than one million illegal alien agriculture workers and their families. We urge you to remove these controversial provisions from the bill so we can enact essential funding for our troops without delay. If these provisions remain in the bill, you can expect a vigorous debate on immigration policy.

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