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12/17: Analysis - Sensenbrenner/King Bill Passes House
Released 21 December 2005  By National Immigration Forum

Sensenbrenner/King Bill Passes House

Last night the House passed H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act, sponsored by James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Peter King (R-NY). The vote was 239 to 182.


In an update sent Friday, I listed a few of the amendments being offered during the floor debate. Not all had recorded votes. Here are some results. A more complete summary of what happened will be sent out next week.

An amendment to end the diversity visa lottery program passed 273 to 148.

An amendment to eliminate family 4th preference visas (brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens) and shift those visa numbers to the employment-based system was withdrawn.

An amendment giving state and local law enforcement 'inherent authority' to enforce immigration laws was passed 237 to 180.

There was an amendment offered by Rep. Sensenbrenner at the request of the administration. The bill would make unauthorized presence an ?aggravated felony,? punishable by a sentence of one year and a day. Some genius figured out that *oops!* to prosecute undocumented immigrants for this crime would take a grand jury indictment, trial by jury, and a right to court-appointed counsel. Multiply that by 11 million. The amendment would have lowered the maximum sentence for unauthorized presence to six months. (This is below the threshold where the above-mentioned rights come into play.) This amendment was rejected 164 to 257.

Hall of Fame

Seventeen Republicans voted against the bill, not all for good reasons. Some, like J.D. Hayworth, rejected the bill because they felt it did not go far enough. We?ll have more to say about how Republicans voted next week.

The vote was as close as it was because of the unprecedented cooperation among advocates in Washington and around the country representing religious organizations, immigrant communities and advocacy groups, businesses, labor unions, conservative groups, House staffers and members, and many others who did an amazing job in the ten days from the time the bill was introduced to the time it went to the House floor. As Frank Sharry of the Forum noted after the vote, when we were faced with a similar situation in 1996, with the House voting on punitive anti-immigrant legislation, we lost 350 to 85. Great job everyone!! The battle now shifts to the Senate.

Hall of Shame

If you've done the math by now, you might ask, with 17 Republicans voting against their leadership, why did we lose?

Thirty-six Democrats voted for the bill. Since I cannot think of a good reason to vote for this bill, I will provide the list for your convenience.

Alabama - Robert Cramer

Arkansas - Marion Berry, Mike Ross

Colorado - John Salazar, Mark Udall

Georgia - John Barrow, Jim Marshall

Hawaii - Ed Case

Illinois - Melissa Bean, Jerry Costello, Daniel Lipinski

Indiana - Peter Visclosky

Iowa - Leonard Boswell

Kansas - Dennis Moore

Kentucky - Ben Chandler

Louisiana - Charlie Melancon

Minnesota - Collin Peterson

Mississippi - Gene Taylor

Missouri - Ike Skelton

New York - Brian Higgins

North Carolina - Mike McIntyre

North Dakota - Earl Pomeroy

Ohio - Ted Strickland

Oklahoma - Dan Boren

Oregon - Peter DeFazio

Pennsylvania - Tim Holden, Paul Kanjorski

South Dakota - Stephanie Herseth

Tennessee - Lincoln Davis, Harold Ford, Bart Gordon, John Tanner

Texas - Chet Edwards

Utah - Jim Matheson

Virginia - Rick Boucher

Washington - Rick Larsen

You can find the full breakdown on the vote here:

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