The Democrats are talking out of both sides of their faces again. On the one hand, they’re capitalizing on the immigration protests by trying to convince immigrants to vote Democratic in 2006. One case in point is Ted Kennedy who spoke at the illegal immigration protest in DC Monday. Mary Katharine Ham was at the DC protest when Kennedy spoke and has some photos.
However, behind the scenes, the Democrats were the ones who killed the immigration/guest worker program bill. From Sign on San Diego:
Who killed immigration reform? The autopsy shows it was Senate Democrats.
It’s tempting to put a pox on both parties. But it wouldn’t be fair. Republicans were tireless in search of comprehensive, and bipartisan, reform. Sen. John McCain of Arizona joined with Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., to draft the guest-worker legislation, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter made that legislation central to what his committee sent to the full Senate. Sens. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and Sam Brownback of Kansas were vocal in their support. Sens. Mel Martinez of Florida and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska offered a helpful compromise. And Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist showed leadership by reaching out to the other side.
Too bad you can’t say the same for Democratic leader Harry Reid, who was the villain in this drama.
Hector Flores, president of the League of United Latin-American Citizens, told me that he tried to impress upon Reid’s office that it was important to get immigration reform done.
“Apparently, it fell on deaf ears,” Flores said.
Reid claims it was GOP hard-liners who killed reform by running roughshod over Frist.
Baloney. The hard-liners had – by all accounts – no more than 30 votes, including those of conservative Democrats. On the other side, you had – according to McCain – as many as 70 votes.
A deal was at hand that would have offered legal status to some illegal immigrants. It would have made the GOP seem more Latino-friendly, but it would also have infuriated organized labor, which opposes something that was in the mix: guest workers.
After the Senate Judiciary Committee put out a guest-worker bill, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney issued a statement saying: “Guest-workers programs are a bad idea and harm all workers.”
That did it. Senate Democrats sided with labor and sold out Latinos. The deal came undone because Reid refused to allow the legislation to go through the amendment process. Republicans had come up with as many as 400 amendments but whittled the list to 20. Reid agreed to proceed with debate on just three.
It was a masterstroke by Democrats. Labor is happy. And while Latinos are angry, there’s always the chance that Democrats can fool them into channeling that anger toward Republicans.
And it seems to be working: