Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Senate Begins Debate and Key Stakeholder: Illegal Immigrants

The infrastructure package is now in the Senate, after a break for the weekend and to discuss the Holder nomination. The Senate version is near $900B, compared to the $819B in the House package. Republican Senators are again touting plans to put money in people's pockets, but it as of yet remains unclear whether or not they can unify their ranks against the bill. These Senators, as well as a handful of conservative Democrats, have proposed a bevy of amendments, including doubling aid to people who are facing foreclosure, getting rid of many "non-stimulus related measures" (even if they could potentially create jobs) and capping all stimulus spending at $900B. And in a late-breaking (meaning a few minutes before I posted), Associated Press briefing, Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans blocked an amendment by our own Dianne Feinstein to add an additional $25 billion in badly-needed infrastructure money, including an additional $2 billion for desperately-needed mass transit projects, citing concerns that the bill contains too much money already. However, an LA Times article states that Republican Congressmen, particularly those from states that Obama carried, are being forced by constituents to defend their vote against the stimulus bill.

Let’s talk about the effect of the infrastructure bill on illegal immigration, an issue that has hotly been debated.

Many states with large populations of illegal immigrants are also the states hit hardest by the economic crisis. These states are also “too big to fail”, despite having measures such as balanced-budget amendments and majorities required to pass budgets that are almost as bad as the Articles of Confederation. Their governors, both Republican and Democratic, are urging speedy passage of the infrastructure bill. According to a Los Angeles Times article, part of the House package includes a measure that would require all workers receiving jobs under the stimulus package to register with eVerify, a citizenship authenticating website. Critics say that not only does it violate immigrant rights, it could slow relief in the form of infrastructure money. No doubt that this measure was driven in part by the wave of nativism that inevitably follows a downturn in the economy.

In other news, Michael Steele appointed RNC chair in attempt to relate to minorities, who have been further alienated by the aforementioned measure.

So how will we resolve the issue of immigration (which the Republicans so kindly brought up), an issue that is pulling many state governments into the red? By cutting them out of the construction industry, which often employs large numbers of them? Sending them back or not letting them in in the first place are out of the question. So we must do something to give immigrants the tools to achieve the American dream, so that their descendants can be musicians or realtors or MBA trainers or whatever. And that’s my take on immigration, the infrastructure package, and the economy. Keep the paintballs coming.

What’s Really in the Stimulus Package (NPR)

Senate Takes on Stimulus (LA Times)

An Op-Ed about the stimulus (LA Times)

More on the Stimulus Package (LA Times)

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