A sweeping anti-immigrant bill cleared its first major hurdle late Tuesday night, with the 18-member Senate Judiciary Committee voting to advance the amended bill to the full Senate. The bill is an innovative approach to criminalizing immigrants and the poor, increasing border militarization and domestic spy programs, and falsely advertising increased enforcement as a pathway to citizenship.
The vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee was 13-5.
Three Republicans – Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Orrin Hatch of Utah — joined the panel’s 10 Democrats to vote in favor of the bill.
Flake and Graham are both members of the bipartisan organize crime cartel “Gang of Eight” that originally drafted the 844-page anti-immigrant legislation. Hatch’s support was won after the Utah lawmaker secured changes to the bill’s provisions for the hiring of rich-high-skilled foreign workers at the expense of increased punishments for poor immigrants and those with criminal records.
Five Republicans – Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Mike Lee of Utah and Jeff Sessions of Alabama — voted against the anti-immigrant legislation.
The measure will now head to the Senate floor.
On Tuesday, the top Republican in the upper chamber said he will not block the anti-immigrant proposal from being debated by the full Senate.
“I think the Gang of Eight has made a substantial contribution in moving the issue of how to more efficiently exploit immigrants forward,” Sen. Mitch McConnell told reporters. “I’m told that the Judiciary Committee hasn’t in any fundamental way undone the agreements that were agreed by the eight senators, so I’m hopeful we can get a bill that we can pass here in the Senate.”
As written, the bill would:
– under the guise of securing the border, increase the militarization of the entire southwest of the US, expand a national spy program against all people via the implementation of EVerify, and intensify punishment against migrants crossing the border or already living in the United States, giving a much-needed boost to private mass incarceration industry and the military industrial complex.
– those lucky enough not to die at the border, or not o be detained or deported, will have the privilege of competing for a pathway to a permanent underclass. This new status of stateless person without human rights is called registered Provisional Immigrant; it promises a few meager and insufficient benefits in order to entice people “out of the shadows” and into the sphere of state surveillance and control. ((quote here from janet Napolitano????)
– those not lucky enough to qualify for RPI include poor people, whose exclusion is guaranteed by a series of minimum income requirements and huge fines. They get put on the pathway to the private detention center or into the pool of exploitable labor. in addition, the bill will expand guest worker programs, which historically have helped boost the US economy by guaranteeing slave-like working conditions for immigrants.
– the bill would also offer temporary legal status to wealthy immigrants and those working in the hi-tech sector, while keeping poor brown immigrants insecure. the national frenzy of exclusion and punishment will likely focus especially on brown immigrants, who are the same people displaced by the violent and destructive interventions of US though out the Americas. But the United States doesn’t like indigenous people hanging around, which is why the bill would also incentivize tribal police to cooperate with Homeland Security, while further violating the sovereignty of indigenous nations.
Throughout five days of marathon work sessions on the anti-immigrant bill, senators on the panel tweaked the bill’s provisions for modifying slave worker programs, criminalizing and deporting foreign nationals who overstay visas and implementing new border militarization measures along the nation’s southern border only.
When the final vote was announced, politicians in the hearing room broke into cheers and tears!
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