May 30, 2007

Immigration Bill Blues, Or, How I Derailed The Compromise

The Hill reports this morning that conservative Republicans in the House have plans to derail the Senate immigration compromise based on a procedural matter. The bill includes tax policy, which according to the Constitution, has to originate in the House, and some Republicans have lined up to issue a "blue slip" stop to the legislation on that basis.

And, I have to tell you, this is my fault:

House conservatives are ready to stop the Senate immigration bill in its tracks with a potent procedural weapon should the contentious measure win passage in the upper chamber.

The trump card conservatives may hold is a constitutional rule that revenue-related bills must originate in the House. The Senate immigration measure requires that illegal immigrants pay back taxes before becoming citizens, opening the door to a House protest, dubbed a “blue slip” for the color of its paper.

House Republicans used the same back-taxes mandate for a blue-slip threat that derailed last year’s immigration conference. The new Senate bill still must survive two more weeks of voter scrutiny and contentious amendments, but several conservatives already are lying in wait for the Senate to “make the same mistake twice,” as one House GOP aide put it.

“If we get an opportunity to do it, believe me, we’ll do it,” the aide said. “I think it’s going to be a matter of who will get there first. A number of people in the House are dying to be fingered as the person who killed [the Senate bill].”

How is this my fault? During a blogger conference call with Senator John McCain, one of the bill's architects, I mentioned a Boston Globe story that reported the removal of a requirement to pay back taxes before entering either the Z-visa or Y-visa program. The White House reportedly requested that section be removed, and I asked the Senator why illegal immigrants would get a pass on paying back taxes when American citizens don't get that privilege.

McCain was surprised by this question; he hadn't heard about the removal of the requirement. According to The Hill, McCain went back and reinstated the provision after my question:

The back-taxes provision that could trigger the blue slip came from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who continues to take heavy fire on the presidential hustings for supporting the immigration deal. McCain introduced a back-taxes amendment after a conference call in which Republican bloggers mentioned reports that the Bush administration had asked that this year’s bill not force the very costly process of tax collection among illegal immigrants.

“I’d not heard that proposal on the part of the president,” McCain said, according to a transcript of the call. “I would resist that.”

Some CQ readers (and some of the bloggers on the call) questioned McCain's sincerity, but he apparently meant what he said. He put that provision back into the bill -- and inadvertently provided a hook for House Republicans to at least delay the bill's consideration. While any Representative can blue-slip a revenue-producing bill from the Senate, it takes a majority to enforce it. Given the heat from both sides of this debate, that may not be difficult to arrange, and it would require the Senate negotiators to start from Square One.

So, it turns out that I may have killed the bill, or at least unknowingly provided the means to kill it. Sorry about that ....


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Comments (39)

Posted by KauaiBoy | May 30, 2007 7:29 AM

Thanks Captain!

If anything demonstrates how out of touch the government is with America, this bill is it. But I would propose that this poison pill feature was not overlooked but purposely included to allow for the politicians to have it both ways. This bill shows what's wrong with both democrats and republicans-----and why they are no different-----you get cheap labor and I get a new voter block.

Posted by rbj | May 30, 2007 7:35 AM

So that's why I heard the evil "Mwahahaha" laughter when I clicked over here this morning.

I do not like this immigration bill.

Posted by horse | May 30, 2007 7:37 AM

No apologies necessary Captain. That was a fine maneuver on your part; may it run the traitors' vessel aground.

Posted by RG | May 30, 2007 7:43 AM

The end is here......Jorge punching back at his last few supporters as they are abandoning him.

One more time, there are several reasons why most Americans are against this illegal immigration invasion.

1) The sheer numbers are much too high.

2) Most Latino "immigrants" are in fact illegal aliens, therefore they are likely to be cheating on income tax, social security fraud, identity theft, etc. Associated high crime rate with them.

3) Lack of assimilation and the push of Spanish language is irking many Americans.

4) The deliberate lowering of wages due to the mass influx of illegals - partly being done purposefully.

5) Bush has deliberately not enforced the law for 6 years - that's why we don't believe him now.

6) The small but growing "reconquista" movement in the West and spreading around the nation. Result: loss of US sovereignty. North American Union?

What have I forgotten?

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | May 30, 2007 7:46 AM

I know one blogger who won't be getting invited to a White House dinner.

At this point, consider that a badge of honor, Ed, since you'll need to remain viable after '08. Some people won't have such lowly concerns.

Posted by Maverick Muse | May 30, 2007 7:49 AM

Congressmen and Senators must be made to realize the insurmountable resulting financial burden on tax payers from this comprehensively awful fiasco. The best solution is to enforce current law; that is not status quo, and would cost less than the ultimate price of further legislation that ALWAYS compounds problems via promises of resolute solutions. Law enforcement, the judicial system, public education, social services and social security will fail while breaking the backs of productively working tax payers. The only ones who will breeze by relatively unscathed will be the obscenely overpaid tycoon "management" whose folly is short sighted profit that blinds their vision of resulting catastrophe. Since they own their own league of specialists, one set of minions is the same as another set of peons. Don't fool yourself thinking "not me" as you are most certainly being replaced while marveling in denial.

Posted by Lisa | May 30, 2007 7:49 AM

No apology necessary. In fact, I thank you. I vehemently disagree with the bill and support any effort to kill it. If all conservatives don't wake up quick we will see either a split in the party, or be facing an insurmountable deficit in the voting population in the coming decades.

Posted by Mike From Philly | May 30, 2007 7:50 AM

If the blue slip works, I'll kiss you. A big french kiss .... you know the French like us again. Sadly, my president thinks I don't want what is best for my nation.

Posted by Stephen Macklin | May 30, 2007 7:56 AM

Thanks Cap'n.

This bill deserves to die. The only good thing about it is the imapct it has had on the McCain campaign. So kill it, but don't kill it too quickly.

Posted by bulbasaur | May 30, 2007 8:14 AM

I have mixed thoughts about this.

While I resent strongly the unfairness of letting 12 million lawbreakers achieve priveleges I will never have, I am also persuaded by defenders of the bill who threaten there would be non-trivial economic consequences if we were to abolish the illegal work force.

Weighing the two, I still strongly favor deportation.

But I am intellectually honest enough to admit we will have to accept the economic consequences. I am willing to do this. Then again, I was willing to stay the course in Iraq as I thought the majority of conservatives were, only to have so many of them bail out on me as soon as the going got tough.

With trepidation, and with very little confidence in the ability of liberals OR conservatives to accept the uncomfortable consequences of the decision, I still say - abolish the illegal workers and punish the corporate jackals who got us into this in the first place.

Posted by Al Maviva | May 30, 2007 8:44 AM

This is just crazy enough to work. For one thing, illegals who do pay taxes, insert about $30 billion into the fisc every year, but then fail to claim refunds against it. A billion isn't much, but like Dirksen said, a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it starts to add up. For another, many of the illegals are low bracket earners. That means if they do file back tax returns (presumably on a generous, no-penalty-or-criminal-liability basis, even if they never paid taxes they will be owed *substantial* tax credit refunds. So not only would a good chunk of that $30 billion (times the number of years filed for, potentially in the $150 billion range) be paid back out, but there could be several years of back tax credits owed to each illegal.

As Linda Chavez noted yesterday, however, I only say this because I'm afraid, racist, bigoted, and prejudiced annd I simply hate Mexicans - the money worries are completely pretextual.

Posted by Realist | May 30, 2007 8:53 AM

Come on, people, face reality. The fix is in. This bill, or something very like it, will become law. The borders will not be secured.

Posted by Nedra Lee | May 30, 2007 9:12 AM

I'm thrilled!! Thanks a bunch Cap'n. At least we've put off for another day this awful "fix".
And with Fred Thompson now running I can perhaps begin to take an easy breath.

Posted by Spider79 | May 30, 2007 9:17 AM

Rush was pointing out yesterday another little thought out aspect of the bill pertaining to fines and back taxes. What if the illegal has no desire to get a green card and be a US citizen? He then pays no fine or taxes. As soon as he gets his Z-Visa he has his amnesty and come and go as he pleases just like any other citizen. What do you think the % is that want to become US citizens and assimilate. Lets ask Miss USA.

Posted by RBMN | May 30, 2007 9:17 AM

Maybe something even better, from my perspective, will happen. The House will strengthen the border security triggers in the bill and then pass it. Doing nothing is a bad thing.

Posted by Sandy P | May 30, 2007 9:35 AM

Low-income people don't pay federal taxes - so for the pres to say it's too hard/confusing is wrong, unless he's talking pre-2002(?).

Posted by onlineanalyst | May 30, 2007 9:45 AM

What also seems to be lost in this controversy is that Sen. Ted Kennedy, who is behind this travesty of an illegals' amnesty bill, has made his mischief in back room deals and now mugs for the cameras as an altruist and steps back to let the Republicans take the heat.

Kennedy has been the perpetrator of assorted immigration bills as sponsor or author through multiple decades (1965, 1986, and 2007). In each case, the numbers of illegals are exploding exponentially.

Now he may want to protect the colleens from his homeland that do the scut work around his neck of the woods through amnesty protection, but his legislative efforts fly in the face of his responsibility to uphold the Constitution and its rule of law.

National security is indeed jeopardized with the Z-visa, temporary or otherwise. The process for securing the visa is unrealistic in its time constraints for approval. The Z-visa once issued hamstrings law-enforcement agents, giving a free rein to perpetual lawlessness, since the temporary visa is equally perpetually renewable.

I find it also ironic that sanctuary cities are permissible in that it is many of these urban and coastal areas most likely to be subverted by acts of terrorism from within by secreted cells of anarchy or jihad.

The temporary Z-visa is for all practical purposes a permanent get-out-of-jail free pass. Why would an illegal alien desire a more permanent Z-visa or even citizenship in the future is he has the total immunity from responsibility of the temporary protection?

For those who cry out that the fees are too exhorbitant for struggling illegals "in the shadows", one has to ask how did they acquire the funds for a coyote and for the fraudulent documentation to get them here and falsely protect them. The fees are a smokescreen to create the impression that the bill has teeth.

Judicial Watch has a post dated in mid-April,, showing how our IRS actually protects illegals who file taxes using tax identification numbers. The IRS also has evidence of suspect filings because they used duplicated SS numbers. Nevertheless, our immigration agencies are not permitted to use information from the IRS to identify illegals and bring them to justice.

Dig around the Judicial Watch site blog,, to locate other ways that our federal government is protecting the "rights" of illegals.

Somehow our elected "elite" forget that they serve at the pleasure of the law-abiding, tax-paying voter, and that their responsibility is to uphold Constitutional law.

The undermining of our security and property rights as citizens is under severe attack through legislation.

Posted by quickjustice | May 30, 2007 10:15 AM

If the federal government enforced the penalties that already exist under Simpson-Mazzoli for employers who hire illegal aliens, the problem would disappear without massive deportations.

Without jobs, illegal aliens would "deport" themselves by departing. No massive roundups would be necessary.

In addition to border enforcement, enforcing the law against employers who hire illegals is the only solution to this problem, past, present, or future.

The public policy debate is over whom we should legalize. Nothing more, nothing less. I say we legalize high skill immigrants, and bar low-skill immigrants.

Posted by exdem13 | May 30, 2007 10:18 AM

Oh Captain my Captain!

You may have had an effect. You may not have had an effect. But if you did, then, thank you! I absolutely do NOT want an amnesty, I do NOT want a compromise. I WANT the legal security of the borders enforced, and I WANT Mexico to stop being the conduit for any illegal-entry person to arrive & be given official permission to reside without having to become citizens, or even get Green Card status. It's 6 years past 9/11, do We The People need more terrorists sneaking in under the cover of left-wing PC multi-cultural-ness, and right-wing greed? I don't think so.

Posted by robert | May 30, 2007 10:43 AM

Thanks Captain. :)

The illegals didn't come here to assimilate and become citizens, they came here to make a living. And it looks to me like they'll find it better to just get a Z Visa, become legal, and forego the other steps that result in citizenship. $5,000? Why pay that when you are already legal and can't be deported? So all the talk about 'touchback' and 'path to citizenship' are really irrelevant...these people will become legal with no penalty whatsoever for breaking the law.

The only good thing about this is that a non-citizen can't vote. (Except in San Antonio, of course.)

Posted by patrick neid | May 30, 2007 12:25 PM

hope springs eternal.

Posted by acroso | May 30, 2007 12:38 PM

Isn't blue slip by majority vote? They'll have to pass the amnesty by majority vote anyway...

Great work but I don't see how it stops it.

As for McCain- I'd rather open a vein than vote for McCain....regardless as to whther he threw a crumb our way or not.

Posted by jeff | May 30, 2007 12:51 PM

show your displeasure to your govt officials about this by flying your flag upside down from your homes businesses and vehicles. if you dont have one get one and do it.

Posted by acroso | May 30, 2007 12:54 PM

Jeff- no one would possibily understand what you were trying to protest if you do that.

Maybe if you put a Mexican flag up that will annoy people.

Posted by jeff | May 30, 2007 1:04 PM

get the radio people to push it and let the word spread we did it in 2000 when gore was doing his thing to try and steal the election

Posted by Sandy P | May 30, 2007 1:33 PM

--The IRS also has evidence of suspect filings because they used duplicated SS numbers. --

By law, they can't cross-check. It's been that way for years, IIRC.

Posted by Joe Doe | May 30, 2007 1:39 PM

A temporary lapse of time - the presidential oligarchies will do the back doors as usual for the "no Spanish left behind" program. It seems to me that Captain is quite sad for something he did that is not in the interest of the (South) American people - the tone is quite apologetic.

Rest assured - there is no way that a repeat of the last amnesty bill can be avoided - or that another one in 10-15 years from now will not happen again. No way. The critical mass has been exceeded and the latinization cannot be stopped.

Same as with the ME nuclear lab. The Bush legacy - speaking Spanish under the nuclear clouds.

Posted by Daedalus | May 30, 2007 3:00 PM

Captain - you owe nobody an apology. This bill is the result of two mindless competing factions who crawl in bed with each other. One is chasing cheap labor and the other is chasing cheap votes. These mindless groups do not represent the tax paying citizens of this country.........GOD bless you for what you have done

Posted by bikerken | May 30, 2007 3:04 PM

Robert, you said, "The only good thing about this is that a non-citizen can't vote."

Well, maybe you're right, but when all of these illegals are suddenly legal, they will go in to get drivers licenses. And once they do that, Motor Voter will kick in. In many states, I'm not sure how many, you are not allowed to check the citizenship status of a person registering to vote. It's even against the law in many states to ask for a photo ID. I suspect that the liberal beaureaucrats at the DMV will register just about everyone that comes in to get a drivers license. And you don't need to pay the fine or apply for citizenship to get that.

Posted by Sharon Ferguson | May 30, 2007 4:00 PM

What is also very below the radar is how groups like MeCHA and La Raza have direct lines into the White House and Congress - fomenting unrest through lies about American history. Let this amnesty pass and I have to wonder if the next step isn't outright attacks on Americans just for being on their supposed land.

There is pure evil afoot...

Posted by Joe Doe | May 30, 2007 4:30 PM

I wonder what is worse – Clinton’s definition of sex or Bush’s definition of amnesty? Grudgingly, I have to pick the later; in perspective, Clinton seems to be just bad.

Posted by Kevin | May 30, 2007 5:44 PM

I share Boehner's opinion of this bill

Posted by Human Resource Rep | May 30, 2007 6:17 PM

Along with the legal status that it would confer upon those who broke the law, this bill also poses a grave economic threat to middle class Americans, because it would drastically raise the number of H-1B visas granted to foreign professional workers.

As a Human Resources representative, I see first hand how the H-1B visa and employment based green card programs actually work together to drive U.S. citizens in white collar industries from their jobs and even from their careers. To begin with, there is virtually nothing in the law that prevents employers from hiring H-1Bers for open positions even if qualified Americans are available and willing to do the work. Americans are routinely laid off and replaced with lower paid H-1Bers also. In these cases, Americans have practically no legal recourse available under current law.

H-1B is also a dual intent visa, which means an employer may sponsor an H-1Ber for an employment based green card for legal permanent resident status. When a company seeks to sponsor a foreign worker for an EB green card, they are required by law to demonstrate a good faith effort to recruit Americans first. This process is called labor certification. But employers routinely game the labor certification process for green card sponsorship to defraud even well qualified citizen job applicants in favor of low wage foreigners. They use fake job ads and/or bad faith interviews of American citizens to convince the federal government that they tried to find American workers first. These practices are common in high tech and even in some non-tech industries, but HR people are told to keep quiet about it or lose their jobs.

I would be in favor of a program that issues a small number of self-sponsoring green cards for truly innovative foreign nationals on a competitive basis. But very few of the H-1Bers or green card applicants that I have seen in 10+ years even come close to being truly innovative. Most are just practitioners with skills that are actually quite common among the domestic workforce. The only thing special about these foreigners is that they will work for substantially less than Americans in order to have a chance to become legal permanent residents. Thus they are used by management to sweeten corporate balance sheets.

The prevailing wage regulations are supposed to insure that foreign nationals are paid the same as their American counterparts in the same job functions, but these regulations are so riddled with loopholes that they are a bad joke.

Since my work allows me to have access to salary records, I can tell you that the labor cost savings for H-1Bers and green card applicants is substantially greater than the costs of filing the applications with the government.

Citizens should demand that both the H-1B and employment based green card programs be abolished in their current form.

Posted by Keemo | May 30, 2007 6:23 PM

The United States government is on the verge of approving a mass amnesty to millions of illegal aliens — a plan pushed aggressively by meddling Mexican officials who reap billions of dollars in remittances (illegal aliens' earnings sent back to Mexico) without having to lift a finger to clean up their own country.

And the thanks we get? Internationally televised public humiliation.

On Monday night, the beautiful young woman who represented America in the Miss Universe pageant was booed and mocked as she competed on stage in Mexico City. Rachel Smith, 22, did her best to respond with grace and dignity during the Top Five finalists' interview segment as the audience disrupted the event.

Definitely not this one.

Smith soldiered through her answer, describing an educational trip to South Africa. Catcalls and whistles nearly drowned out Smith's reply until she wrapped up with "Buenos noches, Mexico."

I wouldn't have been so polite.

None of Miss USA's fellow Americans participating in the interview segment — neither Minnillo, nor macho co-host Mario Lopez, nor the dashing judge Tony Romo — came to Smith's defense. Instead, Minnillo pleaded briefly with the unruly mob: "Okay, una momento, por favor ." Lopez stood mute with a dumb grin on his dimpled face. Pathetic.

In fact, Smith was subjected to anti-American hatred throughout the week-long event. Last week, during the contestants' national costume fashion show, Smith smiled bravely as a rowdy outdoor crowd hissed and booed at her. According to pageant observers, no other contestants received such treatment.

Pitifully, Donald Trump and his Miss Universe officials are downplaying Smith's experience — ignoring the fact that the last time the pageant was held in Mexico, Miss USA was abused in similar fashion. 1993 Miss USA Kenya Moore was infamously heckled when chosen for the semi-finals that year.

Just a tiny minority of America-haters, right? How quickly we forget.

Do you remember what happened in Guadalajara in 2004 during an Olympics qualification soccer match between the U.S. and Mexico? The stadium erupted in boos during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Fans yelled "Osama! Osama!" as the U.S. was eliminated by Mexico.

The following year, in March 2005, Mexican soccer fans again cheered the al Qaeda mastermind's name at a World Cup qualifier. ESPN reported the audience again booed and whistled during the U.S. national anthem, and plastic bags filled with urine were reportedly tossed on American players.

One Mexican fan told the Christian Science Monitor: "'Every schoolboy knows about 1848. . . . When they robbed our territory,' referring to when Texas, California and New Mexico were annexed to the U.S. as part of a peace treaty ending the war between the two countries, 'that was the beginning.'"

This bitterness is long-standing, deep-seated and stoked by top Mexican government officials and elites. But pointing this reality out in the context of our crucial national debate over sovereignty, immigration, assimilation, border security and the rule of law will get you labeled a bigot. Our leaders have concluded that it is better to pander, hide, pull out a friendly Spanish phrase like Minnillo did, and pray that the hatred will go away by giving the pro-amnesty lobby its legislative goodie-bag.

Meanwhile, as Manhattan Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald points out, the White House continues to attack opponents of the Bush-Kennedy amnesty package as "nativists." Conservative columnist Linda Chavez accused amnesty critics of "not liking Mexicans." Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff suggested enforcement advocates wanted to "execute" illegal aliens. And Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham trashed immigration enforcement proponents as "bigots" in front of the ethnocentric, open-borders group La Raza.

Yeah, we're the nativists.

Next, they'll tell us the mob at the Miss Universe pageant was simply "doing the booing Americans won't do."

Will President Bush speak out against the treatment Miss USA received in Mexico? Will any amnesty peddler in Washington? Imagine if Miss Mexico were booed, heckled and subjected to chants of "USA, USA" if the pageant had been held here.

Smith can hold her head up high. Those who are selling out our country, on the other hand, should hang their heads in shame. (Michelle Malkin)

Miss USA showed us courage, pride, and dignity under extreme pressure. Do we have any pride left? Mexicans by the hundreds of thousands marched on our streets waiving the Mexican Flag while shouting obscenities at Americans watching from the sidelines. These folks have been shoving their bullshit down our throats for years now; why not, they know nothing will happen to them. Our politicians are going to reward these law breakers with the ultimate prize "American citizenship". Screw all of you Americans; we need the votes; besides, what are you going to do about it anyway; we run this country and not you... ... under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth; Abraham Lincoln would be crying today...

How pathetic we have become...

Posted by Rose | May 30, 2007 11:15 PM

Excuse me, Capt, what on earth do you have, to feel sorry about???

MAJOR KUDOS, if it works! Major kudos if it doesn't, FOR THE EFFORT!


show your displeasure to your govt officials about this by flying your flag upside down from your homes businesses and vehicles. if you dont have one get one and do it.
Posted by: jeff at May 30, 2007 12:51 PM


They'll think you are supporting Hanoi John. They'll think you lost your mind.

Posted by Rose | May 30, 2007 11:26 PM

And with Fred Thompson now running I can perhaps begin to take an easy breath.

Posted by: Nedra Lee at May 30, 2007 9:12 AM

Oh, I can see how the opportunity to vote for a man who voted for McCain Feingold, and voted that Clinton was NOT guilty of Perjury, I can see how that man would make you feel that was.

Him being best buds with the man who brought us this amnesty bill, and all.

Posted by RoyE | May 31, 2007 5:36 AM

I am surprised at the naivete of the bill's supporters in believing that the government is willing and/or able to follow through on the enforcement aspects of this bill.

The rejection of Senator Coleman's common sense amendment to ban the practice 'sanctuary cities' further underscores the seriousness of the bill's proponents.

We have a long, long history of government failure in this regard. The 'trust' us aspect of he bill is practically an insult at this point. And the idea that failure to meet he conditions for a 'trigger' will actually stop anything is laughable. The idea that border enforcement is now being held hostage by demands to legalize illegals and wipe the politicians slate clean ahead of the election cycle infuriates me.

Article IV Section IV of the Constitution is not a bargaining chip.

Posted by Spec Bowers | May 31, 2007 8:00 AM

>So, it turns out that I may have killed the bill, or at least unknowingly provided the means to kill it. Sorry about that ....

Oh, what a shame!

Posted by Barbara Skolaut | May 31, 2007 5:54 PM

"Sorry about that ...."

Or not.... :-D