After invoking cloture, the U.S. Senate on May 25, 2006, adopted the so-called Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 by a vote of 62 to 36. That bill was never voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives, and did not become law. This week, on June 27, 2013, the U.S. Senate again adopted a comprehensive immigration reform bill after invoking cloture, this time by a vote of 68-32.
This bill will also not receive a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, and like its 2006 predecessor will not become law. Nor should it. The new bill again features an immigration amnesty that undermines legal limits on immigration and encourages future illegal immigration. It would effectively triple legal immigration over the next decade while we are stuck in the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression. It guarantees no additional enforcement. In an effort to garner votes, it is loaded with slush fund spending and special interest add-ons.
My favorite of the add-ons is the “Schumer E-3 Irish Visas”, inserted into the bill by Senator Chuck Schumer to provide 10,500 annual work visas to Irish citizens only. No Mexicans or any other nationality can apply for these visas, although more Americans trace their family roots to Ireland than to any other country. These are the opposite of so-called diversity visas supposed to diversify America. These are anti-diversity visas.
R.I.P. anti-diversity visas, amnesty, false promises of enforcement, and pay-offs to big business. The senators who voted for this bad bill should all be challenged in their next primary elections.
Also this week, the Supreme Court finally recognized the overdue and unavoidable truth, that the constitutional right of same-sex married Americans to equal protection under the law trumps the deliberately demeaning so-called “Defense of Marriage Act”. It also sustained the lower court decision upholding California’s legalization of same-sex marriage.
But because the Supreme Court did not explicitly declare same-sex marriage a constitutional right, states can continue to define marriage traditionally as limited to opposite-sex couples. The political battle over marriage rights will continue at the state level until a constitutional right to same-sex marriage is recognized, which now seems likely if not inevitable.
On the other hand, the Supreme Court invalidated parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which subjected jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to federal oversight, thus opening the door to new efforts to suppress citizen voting in those jurisdictions.
What I feel the majority in that case ignored was the martyrs who gave their lives before 1965 while defending voting rights in the very jurisdictions which came to be covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Those martyrs whose names should never be forgotten include Medger Evers, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, James Reeb, Viola Liuzzo, and too many others.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965, and its renewal by overwhelming vote of Congress as recently as 2006, was a tribute to those martyrs. The efforts of Congress to fulfill the promise of the 15th Amendment which guarantees voting rights of citizens should have been supported and sustained by the Supreme Court.