Posted on September 14, 2007

Immigration Amendments Loom on Upcoming Bills, Sessions Says

Congressional Quarterly, September 12, 2007

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., a leading immigration policy critic, said Wednesday that amendments planned for upcoming legislation could put more than 4 million illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship.

That is about one-third of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants who would have benefited from the comprehensive immigration overhaul bill (S 1639) he helped kill earlier this year, Sessions said.

Sessions warned colleagues in a letter that legislation (S 774) labeled the DREAM Act that would allow states to provide college benefits to illegal immigrants could be offered as an amendment to the fiscal 2008 Defense appropriations bill (HR 3222) later this month. The measure could benefit 1.3 million illegal immigrants.

More alarming to Sessions was that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., plans to offer an amendment to the five-year farm bill that could come to the floor in October that could legalize 1.5 million farm workers. The Congressional Budget Office estimated they would bring another 1.8 million relatives into the country with them.

“To people who voted against the comprehensive package, they really should not vote for this,” Sessions said. “It’s one third of the total number and has less demands on the people who are here illegally.”

The reason for Sessions’ alarm was a July 25 colloquy in which Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., assured Feinstein of a vote on the so-called AgJobs measure, which she introduced earlier this year as a freestanding bill (S 340). “I will do everything I can to make sure it is part of the farm bill,” Reid said.

Sessions said Feinstein is negotiating a potential compromise with the ranking Republican on the Agriculture Committee, Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.

“It could blow up on the floor and cause a big fuss,” Sessions said. “We need to focus on the legitimate labor needs of the United States. But our focus should not be on how to serve people who are in the country illegally.”