McCain-Kennedy Immigration Bill Passes

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday passed immigration reform legislation proposed by Sens. McCain (R-Ariz.) and Kennedy (D-Mass). In an apparent victory for pro-immigration demonstrators, the bill would upend the H.R. 4437 Sensenbrenner anti-immigration bill that was approved by the House in December and will be discussed on the Senate floor as soon as Tuesday.

“All Americans wanted fairness and they got it this evening,” said Sen. Ted Kennedy.

By approving the measure 12-6, the Republican-controlled Senate panel demonstrates a shake-up on the right, in which the president, who had originally skewed the party far from the center, now is surrounded by GOP members to his right and left. In regards to historical immigration reform, this is a positive twist, pending its impact on the House-passed Sensenbrenner bill. Marc Cooper describes it as:

…A huge and welcome political victory for immigration reform advocates who have been working to bring national policies into line with some pretty stark realities. For the first time in 20 years, we see at least one house of congress inching out of the hypocrisy and denial that has characterized U.S. border and immigration policy.

Joe Gandelman’s covered immigration issues for over a quarter-century. He compares the current legislation to a failed Reagan-era proposal, presents historical arguments and links to a breadth of blogged opinion on the topic here at his excellent site The Moderate Voice.

At least 20,000 students walked-out of LAUSD schools in protest Monday (FOX nearly doubles the figure), and surely some were passionate about more than just skipping class (photos).

LA Times photo
Today’s vote dramatically broadens the proposed immigration bill on the eve a bound-to-be contentious debate on the Senate floor, where as even Senate Judiciary Committee chair Arlen Specter, one of four Republicans to approve the legislation, admits it may be severly altered.Multimedia PostScript: President Bush enhanced his centrist (or maybe just confused) position on the issue with a visit to a naturalization ceremony, available in full color at the White House website. WaPo has a fundraising-thermometer type graphic of illegal immigrants here.

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