by Max Brantley
The U.S. Senate voted 68-32 to end debate on the immigration reform bill, which ought to mean final passage at nearly that level. It's broadly bipartisan, certainly in the context of present-day Washington. But Sen. Mark Pryor will support the bill and, if votes so far count, Dr. No Boozman will oppose it.
Can an Arkansas House Republican be found to support the measure, given how many concessions were made — particularly on border security spending? Judging from the early shilling, the answer is no. The Cottonmouth snakes of the GOP claque are already making Pryor out as a traitor to his state for providing a long and difficult path to legal presence for immigrants along with all the concessions to tightening borders.
The final Senate vote will be this afternoon.
UPDATE: It has passed 68-28. Mark Pryor aye. Dr. No Boozman lived up to his name. Said Pryor:
Today, the Senate reached across party lines to strengthen our nation by passing the strongest border security bill in history. Those who have been in the shadows for decades will be taking responsibility for their actions by paying owed taxes, fines, and penalties; contributing to Social Security; helping reduce our deficit; and strengthening our economy.
Republicans say the House will offer its own bill, certain to be draconian enough that it can't pass the Senate. Here we go again. The extremists like Tom Cotton won't allow a vote on the Senate bill, which could pass the House though not necessarily with majority Republican support.
Walmart lauded the action. Also, read on for what a coalition of Arkansas groups — including the Arkansas Poultry Federation — said in praise:
A host of Arkansas organizations offered praise to the United State Senate Thursday upon passage of bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform legislation drafted by the “Gang of Eight.” S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, passed by a bipartisan majority of 68 — 32 including support from Arkansas Senator Pryor.
The legislation includes a 13-year pathway for 11 million undocumented immigrants to earn legal status. It also includes enhanced border security measures including doubling the number of border security agents. The legislation also increases the number of visas available for high-skilled workers and entrepreneurs as well as visas for temporary agricultural workers.
The Senate vote matched public support of immigration reform. Recent polling from Public Policy Polling found that 67 percent of likely Arkansas voters support the “Gang of Eight” immigration legislation and 87 percent believe it is important to fix our broken immigration system this year.
Furthermore, the recent Congressional Budget Office analysis shows that the bipartisan Senate bill would decrease the federal deficit by $175 billion over the next 10-year period. And it would be hugely beneficial for state and local economies. In a 20-year outlook, the CBO estimated that comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship would further decrease the federal deficit by another $700 billion by 2033.
"As a mayor of a city that is a compassionate community that values diversity and has benefitted greatly from immigrants to our nation, I support sensible immigration reform to fix a broken system,” said Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan.
“At universities across the country we educate the best and brightest from around the world. Unfortunately, our current immigration system requires these students to then return to their home countries where they put their talents to work. We need immigration reform that allows these students to promote innovation here in the United States.” said Dr. Zulma Toro, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
“As part of a faith tradition that welcomes people from all backgrounds, we value welcoming the stranger and loving our neighbors as ourselves,” said Bishop Anthony Taylor of the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock. “The time is right for a just and humane reform of our immigration system and I believe this legislation is a product of cooperation and compromise.”
“Members of the Arkansas Keeping Families Together Campaign** have been fighting for a path to citizenship for years. Now is the time to fix our country’s broken immigration system once and for all, providing relief for approximately 60,000 Arkansas immigrant families. This bill is not what we would have crafted. However, the path to citizenship—the heart of this bill—is largely intact. Thanks to support from Senator Pryor and his colleagues on both sides of the aisle, there is now more pressure than ever on our Arkansas Congressmen to get on board and make reform a reality this summer,” said Mireya Reith, Executive Director of Arkansas United Community Coalition.
“The Arkansas poultry and agriculture industries will benefit from this comprehensive immigration reform legislation with an improved guest worker program and stronger borders,” said Marvin Childers, President of the Poultry Federation. “We look forward to working with our congressional delegation in support of similar legislation.”
Passage of immigration reform, supported by a wide majority of Arkansas voters, is now up to Members of Congress.