Beating around the...

It appears the Senate's embattled immigration proposal, back on the table, faces further struggle but one less amendment, one that would have required all undocumented adults to return home to apply for the new bill's provisions. The amendment, proposed by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) lost by a vote of 53-45. (From the AP.)

These so-called "touch-back" provisions -- which already exist in the bill in some form -- make little sense from either a practical or humanitarian perspective. Considering the understandably low level of trust many immigrants hold for immigration authorities -- and the time they'd have to spend, attempting to leave the country, applying for the program, and waiting for the notoriously slow system to process their claims -- how many undocumented immigrants would really pop their heads up and follow such a regulation? Considering the possibility of not being able to return at all -- and the time wasted away from their jobs and families -- I doubt many would acquiesce. Would two undocumented parents of young, U.S.-citizen children really leave their kids here to touch back? It's unreasonable. (And I'm not even discussing those who would be in physical danger if they returned home.) That means we won't have reduced the undocumented population. So what's the point of a provision like this? It's just punitive.

Without her amendment, Hutchison said shortly before the vote, "the amnesty tag that has been put on this bill will remain. It is the key issue in the bill for the American people."

The amnesty tag would remain only because Hutchinson and her ilk find the label advantageous -- because it makes "the American people" close their eyes to the realities of the bill and the nuances of the immigration debate. Allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for a path to legality and perhaps, eventually, achieve permanent residency and citizenship, by paying fees and fines and enduring bureaucracy is hardly an amnesty. They will have paid for their illegality. And even if it is, it might still be the right thing to do.

As for further amendments:
Also expected to be voted on is an amendment by Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., that would bar illegal immigrants from eventually getting green cards.

Democratic amendments to give family members of citizens and legal permanent residents more chances to immigrate are also slated for votes.

Bond's idea reveals a rather insidious intent -- to allow immigrants to work here legally but not have a chance at permanent residency. So we can use their labor and send them back home. Certainly, this is all some immigrants want. But for others, it would signal one more slamming door.

The aforementioned Democratic amendments seek only to reverse the provisions in the bill itself that cut the types of familial relationships through which documented immigrants can bring relatives though legal venues. It's no advance. Another reason to vote down this ludicrous "compromise".

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