Senate Blocks Immigration Bill

Washington (CBS/AP) - The Senate drove a stake Thursday through President Bush's plan to legalize millions of unlawful immigrants, likely postponing major action on immigration until after the 2008 elections.

The bill's supporters fell 14 votes short of the 60 needed to limit debate and clear the way for final passage of the legislation, which critics assailed as offering amnesty to illegal immigrants. The vote was 46 to 53 in favor of limiting the debate.

Despite intense lobbying by President Bush, it was for the most part Republicans who killed this bill, reports CBS News correspondent Bob Fuss, using a filibuster to once again stop it from getting to a final vote.

Senators in both parties said the issue is so volatile that Congress is highly unlikely to revisit it this fall or next year, when the presidential election will increasingly dominate American politics.

A similar effort collapsed in the Congress last year, and the House has not bothered with an immigration bill this year, awaiting Senate action.

The vote was a stinging setback for Bush, who advocated the bill as an imperfect but necessary fix of current immigration practices in which many illegal immigrants use forged documents or lapsed visas to live and work in the United States.

It was a victory for Republican conservatives who strongly criticized the bill's provisions that would have established pathways to lawful status for many of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. They were aided by talk radio and TV hosts who repeatedly attacked the bill and urged listeners to flood Congress with calls, faxes and e-mails.

The bill would have toughened border security and instituted a new system for weeding out illegal immigrants from workplaces. It would have created a new guest worker program and allowed millions of illegal immigrants to obtain legal status if they briefly returned home.

Bush, making a last-ditch bid to salvage the bill, called senators early Thursday morning to urge their support. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez approached senators as they entered and left the chamber shortly before the vote.

"We have been in contact with members of Congress over the past couple of days and the president has made it clear that this is important to him," White House spokesman Tony Snow said before the vote.

But GOP conservatives led the opposition. They repeatedly said the government must secure the borders before allowing millions of illegal aliens a path to legal status.

"Americans feel that they are losing their country ... to a government that has seemed to not have the competence or the ability to carry out the things that it says it will do," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said in the debate's final hour.

Sen. Elizabeth H. Dole, R-N.C., said many Americans "don't have confidence" that borders, especially with Mexico, will be significantly tightened. "It's not just promises but proof that the American people want," Dole said.

But the bill's backers said border security and accommodations to illegal immigrants must go hand in hand.

"Year after year, we've had the broken borders," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. "Year after year, we've seen the exploitation of workers. Year after year, we've seen the people who live in fear within our own borders. This is the opportunity to change it. Now is the time."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told colleagues that if the bill faltered, the political climate almost surely would not allow a serious reconsideration until 2009 or later. It would be highly unlikely, she said, "in the next few years to fix the existing system... We are so close."

Copyright 2007 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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  • by Chris Location: Home on Jun 30, 2007 at 05:54 AM
    The politicaians in Washington have no clue how it is in the taxpayers lives. Their lives are not impacted. They don't have the problem of overcrowding of schools. The schools their children attend don't have to deal with the alien's children and the enormous strain they put on the schools. They don't have to use the local ER and have to wait hours because of flooding of aliens. They don't have to think of their pensions being raided like the folks who depend on Social Security do by the aliens getting SS benefits. Maybe if their pensions were in jeopardy, they would have a different take on the situation. They don't have to worry about the low wages the aliens bring to the job market. By the way they just got a raise and the days they actually worked is comical. Evidently we need immigrants but the rules we have on the books needs to be fully enforced. We need to know who is here. What they are doing. If not in the public interest they need to be deported. The immigration bill they[politicians] offered was a joke. thankfully some Senators finally got some sense and stopped it before it could be passed and implemented.
  • by Darcy Location: Knoxville on Jun 28, 2007 at 03:25 PM
    I just don't understand how a government that the people voted in, could totally turn their back on what the american people want, when it comes to the illegal immigrants, this is wrong to try to force this down the people's thoat, these people are breaking our laws and if thats the case why don't we just stop punishing people who break the law, like people who murder,rape,etc. and release the ones that we have in prison, its ok to do that, if we let twelve million illegals stay here, ater breaking the law to come in.I watch america's most wanted and seventy five percent of them are hispanics. I cannot believe that I being an american born and bred here, I had to be on disability for two years before I could get insurance and get on medicare,they told me that that was the law so I had to suffer for two years and just recently become elgible and I suffered for two years with my back I was so sick I could hardly get out of bed in the mornings, My life has been miserable these last two years. But yet our goverment are going to allow all these illegals to come here and get on our system. this is not the right thing to do. we have americans here that are hurting and desperate for help. such as myself until a month ago, no one would help me. I feel bad about those people but they are breaking our law,so please don't have two sets of rules, There are so many americans that need help remember them. I thank God for the senators in tennessee, thank you for listening to the people we really appreciate you. unlike president bush and all the others that did not care what the american people want. Here is really the statement that being said to our young people its ok to break the law, Our government will set you free, Shame on you president bush and all the others thats putting others above the law. thats not a good message to send.
  • by gary Location: knoxville on Jun 28, 2007 at 12:33 PM
    HURRAY They finally did something RIGHT dont grant Illegals amestity did u hear about the sheriff in FL he is doing something and if we work with Mexicans turn them in But define illegal allein is it just w/o a green card u can get them all day from ebay or The illegals work for Garcia til they get their "legal status"


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