Saturday, June 23, 2007

What will Brownback back? Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, has this to say about the present immigration bill:
Regarding immigration, Brownback does not support the current immigration bill before Congress, saying there were too many problems. But he said he would support tougher border security and a guest worker program.

The Republican candidate said there is a deep-seeded conflict in America over illegal immigration – particularly what to do with those already here.

“That’s the difficulty with the issue. It goes to two core issues – rule of law and being a compassionate society. You want to do both of these,” he said.

Last year, Sen. Brownback voted in favor of the Senate immigration bill S. 2611, which ultimately passed. Will he have enough "problems" with the present bill to vote against cloture? I haven't heard much either way from him. Has anyone else? He missed the cloture vote on the immigration bill earlier this month; will he miss the next one, too?

6/25 UPDATE: A source tells Geraghty that Brownback will be around for the cloture vote, but it's unknown how he'll vote.
More on labor and immigration: Reportedly "very, very nervous about the availability and cost of labor in the near future," different agricultural associations are investing in the research and development of new machines to pick crops. (H/T: Ace)
In The National Review, John Fonte draws attention to S. 1639's inclusion of a provision for a Commission on the Wartime Treatment of European Americans (see sec. 901-20) during World War II. The immigration bill would also establish a Commission on the Wartime Treatment of Jewish Refugees (sec. 921-6). The European American commission would conduct hearings on and recommend "appropriate remedies" (sec. 912.4) for the government treatment of "European Americans" (which includes both US citizens and resident aliens of "European ancestry" [sec. 903.2(A)]). S. 1639 says that the "wartime policies of the United States Government were devastating to the Italian American and German American communities, individuals, and their families" and claims that the "detrimental effects are still being experienced" (sec. 902.5). See pages 409-418 for the provisions regarding these commissions; section 902 lists some of the US government policies toward "European Americans"--including internment, identification certificates, and deportation--during WWII.
President Bush keeps up the pressure in support of the "grand bargain" immigration bill.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks strongly against present immigration bill in this press conference. Says that it hurts workers; while he does favor a legalization program, he thinks the proposed "guest worker" program will hurt American wages. Could this persuade Sherrod Brown (D-OH)? While Sanders seems pretty against this bill, do we have any confirmation on how he'll vote on cloture?
Update on Barrasso (via Krikorian):
During the selection process to replace Senator Thomas, Dr. Barrasso said he takes the same position as Enzi on the immigration bill and opposes amnesty. He will likely follow Enzi's lead on this issue.
At the Corner, Mark Krikorian has a list of people he thinks are fairly strong against cloture:
The solid No votes on cloture are Alexander (R-Tenn.), Allard (R-Colo.), Baucus (D-Mont.), Byrd (D-W.Va.), Bunning (R-Ky.), Chambliss (R-Ga.), Coburn (R-Okla.), Corker (R-Tenn.), Cornyn (R-Texas), Crapo (R-Idaho), DeMint (R-S.C.), Dole (R-N.C.), Dorgan (D-N.D.), Enzi (R-Wyo.), Grassley (R-Iowa), Hutchison (R-Texas), Inhofe (R-Okla.), Isakson (R-Ga.), Landrieu (D-La.), McCaskill (D-Mo.), Pryor (D-Ark.), Roberts (R-Kan.), Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Sanders (I-Vt.), Sessions (R-Ala.), Shelby (R-Ala.), Smith (R-Ore.), Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sununu (R-N.H.), Tester (D-Mont.), Thune (R-S.D.), Vitter (R-La.).
Senators seeming against the bill but leaning toward cloture (emphasis added):
The following 12 senators are leaning against the bill itself but so far are leaning toward the cloture motion — which means, in reality, that they would be helping pass the amnesty, because if the bill comes to a final vote, it will pass. These are the Senators whose decisions will likely determine whether the amnesty passes or not: Bond (R-Mo.), Bingaman (D-N.M.), Burr (R-N.C.), Boxer (D-Calif.), Cochran (R-Miss.), Conrad (D-N.D.), Ensign (R-Nev.), Levin (D-Mich.), Gregg (R-N.H.), Nelson (D-Neb.), Hatch (R-Utah), Webb (D-Va.).
Okay, a few points arising from this list:
On Switching from for cloture to against:
Is Stabenow really going to switch to vote against cloture? Has anyone else heard about this?
Is Levin on the fence? He was for cloture last time....
Conrad could certainly be in play; he fellow ND senator Dorgan is a prominent bill skeptic...
Could Sherrod Brown (D-OH) be a plausible addition? Is he still undecided?

And these Republicans:
Collins (R-ME)
Snowe (R-ME)
Domenici (R-NM)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Stevens (R-AK)
Warner (R-VA)
Bennett (R-UT)
Are they all now firmly pro-cloture? Are they OK with the "clay pigeon"?

And where's Coleman (R-MN)? He's sounded pretty critical of the bill, but has he switched?
I've just learned from a reader that Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) has declared that he will very likely vote against cloture on the Lars Larson show today; said that he's dissatisfied with present amendment scheme. He's proposing his own variant of an immigration bill. Link the Larson recording here.
Smith said he's trying to "stay constructive," so he won't say for sure, but this is pretty strong against cloture. Says that "at this point" he'll "vote the way he has before," so it seems that, for now, he's pretty anti-cloture. Calls the Z-visa proposal "amnesty." I'd place him somewhere between "Somewhat Unlikely to Switch" and "Very Unlikely to Switch."
As Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says that he is in the "most difficult" re-election bid of his Senate career, The Hill also reports that Lindsey Graham (SC), one of the most prominent Republican proponents of the Senate's "grand bargain" immigration bill, has suffered a noteworthy drop in his approval rating:
Graham’s approval rating has sunk to 31 percent and he has a 40 percent disapproval rating, according to a poll released Friday by Atlanta-based InsiderAdvantage. The new poll points to Graham’s support for the Senate immigration bill, which includes a path to citizenship, as a likely reason for his apparent unpopularity.

His disapproval among Republicans is higher — 46 percent — than among Democrats —30 percent. Both give him an approval rating in the low 30s.

Only 21 percent of respondents approved of the immigration bill, while 63 percent disapproved. When asked whether they approved of Graham’s “efforts to reach a consensus among his colleagues” to pass the bill, 24 percent approved and 51 percent disapproved, including 57 percent of Republicans.

In November of 2006, Graham was at 56% approval. The Hill notes that this high disapproval amongst Republicans could make Graham vulnerable to a primary challenge.
(H/T Kaus)
John Hawkins has an update from his Senate source. Some key paragraphs:
The conventional wisdom has been that this first cloture vote is a done deal because the Senate leadership has been wheeling and dealing behind the scenes. The way it works is that they go to a senator and offer to allow a vote on their Amendment IF -- and only if -- that senator agrees to vote for cloture on the "clay pigeon" strategy. [[NA--cloture-votes-for-amendments! At least offered--it doesn't seem like it was universally accepted...]]

My source tells me that this has left a sour taste in the mouth of a number of Republican senators who are upset that Mitch McConnell is cooperating with Harry Reid to curtail the rights of Republican senators. Moreover, there's a growing fear that a dangerous precedent is being set here that could be used against Republican senators again and again as long as they're in the minority. After all, if the "clay pigeon" strategy is used against conservatives on the immigration issue, who's to say it won't also be used against them on any number of issues in the future? According to my source, this is causing a lot of nervousness amongst Republican senators and it has Mitch McConnell acting very defensively behind closed doors about working with Harry Reid to roll members of his own caucus. Because of this issue, my source tells me that the vote for the "clay pigeon" strategy is no longer a slam dunk and it is possible that the "grand bargainers" may not be able to get 60 votes to put the bill on the floor as a new bill. If that turns out to be the case, the bill is dead.

In other words, there will be a cloture on Tuesday, then there will be 30 hours of debate, and then there will be a second cloture vote. If the 2nd cloture vote passes, the amendments will then be voted on, and then we'll have the final vote on the bill.

So technically, a Senator could vote for the cloture the first time and then change his/her mind and vote against cloture the second time, but that would seem to be unlikely, because the amendments won't have been put to a vote.

My source tells me that he thought the amnesty proponents definitely had the upper hand last week, but now, he thinks the momentum may be swinging back the other way. He also said that he thinks the best chance to stop the bill will be on the initial cloture vote. He said that he's hoping that a coalition of conservatives who think this is a bad bill, liberals who think this bill is too tough, and Republican senators worried about losing minority rights because of the "clay pigeon" strategy will get together and block the bill.
A new wrinkle: Not to be too single-minded, but, now that John Barrasso has been appointed to fill the Senate seat of Craig Thomas (RIP), he will also (I presume) be voting on the immigration bill. Does anyone have any idea how he'll vote on cloture?
In North Carolina, some farmers say that recent immigration enforcement measures are keeping workers away; some of them aren't very happy about it and hope that new immigration legislation will allow for an influx of more workers.
UPDATE: Although I've heard another explanation from a reader for the supposed lack of farm workers. Rather than being caused by renewed enforcement, this supposed shortage could in fact arise from a breakdown in enforcement: undocumented laborers have more flexibility in finding jobs, so they are less attracted to low-paying farm work. See this paragraph from the story linked above:
For now many farmers, fearful of the prospect that fruit will wither on the vine, are signing up for the federal guest worker program that they had long dismissed as too costly and cumbersome. The current program, used by less than 10 percent of the state's farmers, requires that farmers provide housing, pay nearly $1,000 for each worker's transportation and pay an hourly rate of at least $9.02 an hour. It also requires reams of paperwork so complex that many hire an outside company to do it for them, and each worker must clear a host of checks from the Department of Homeland Security.
Though this story does emphasize that these shortages began to occur around last fall, about the same time the Bush administration began increasing its enforcement enforcement efforts...Maybe it could be a little of both: unauthorized workers have more flexibility in finding jobs, so they're less attracted to agriculture, but recent efforts at enforcement have dried up the present labor pool just a little?
Running into a Buzz Saw: In the face of a poll saying that only 3% of Americans approve of the way Congress is handling immigration, one "White House ally" says (according to the Politico), "There’s a lot of ill will and bad feelings and it’s just run into a buzz saw. You’re asking senators to walk the plank on a bill that may not even get out of the House." But the administration wants to fight on:
The president’s aides think the bill is still eminently doable in the Senate. To get to the 60 votes required for the bill to advance, the tally will probably have Democrats in the high 30s and Republicans in the low 20s. Administration officials say that if the bill gets to the House, they’re ready to do the handholding and retail spadework necessary to line up Republican votes. They believe pressure will build on Speaker Nancy Pelosi from constituencies within her own party that want immigration reform. They also hope she will be under pressure to deliver at a time when the approval rating for Congress is in the cellar.
Along with Corker, Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has just said "no" to cloture (H/T K-Lo):

“I will vote against cloture to end debate on the current immigration bill when it comes before us next week. Other than the war on terror, there is nothing more important than fixing our broken immigration system, and we must keep working on it for as long as it takes to get it right, but right must include a process that earns the confidence of the American people, and this bill does not do that.

This problem has been years in the making and will take time to fix. We must secure the border first once and for all, verified by credible sources, without amnesty – you are here legally or you are not here. We also must make it easier for highly skilled workers to come to America to create jobs and expect and assist those here legally to become Americans by speaking our language and appreciating our history and culture.

I will oppose any bill that does not include these essential elements.”

In response to a video of a seminar on how businesses can deliberately avoid hiring US workers and bring in foreign workers to work in the US instead, Sen. Grassley (R-IA) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) have sent a letter to Elaine Chao, Secretary of Labor. See this SF Chronicle story. Telling paragraphs:

Siding with the displaced Americans, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, wrote Chao Thursday after seeing a five-minute video in which the marketing director of a Pittsburgh law firm is shown telling employers how they can advertise a job so as to appear that the only qualified applicant is a foreign national.

"Our goal is clearly not to find a qualified and interested U.S. worker," says Lawrence Lebowitz of the Cohen & Grigsby law firm during a seminar taped in May. "In a sense it sounds funny, but that's what we're trying to do here."

Text of the Grassley-Smith letters is here (one is to the firm offering this seminar, and the other is to Chao). Telling:

The firm videotaped the Seventh Annual Immigration Law Update Seminar, exposing the blatant disregard for American workers and deliberate attempt to bring in cheaper foreign workers through the H-1B program.

As outlined in our letter, we are concerned that companies are abusing the H-1B program. The video explicitly shows how attorneys are aiding companies in this effort. We seek your assistance in this particular case by reviewing the video and investigating the law firm’s unethical procedures and advice to clients.

Is Sen. Brown (D-OH) on the fence? Brown, a purported ally of labor, voted in favor of cloture last time, but I am hearing (thanks to some readers) that he has concerns and "serious reservations" about elements of the bill, especially the "guest worker" program and that he is undecided about cloture next time. So could he switch to vote against cloture? Especially now that the AFL-CIO is against the bill?
K-LO has a list of Republicans whose votes on cloture she's still unsure about:
Richard Burr (N.C.)

Lamar Alexander (Tenn.)

Kit Bond (Mo.)

Gordon Smith (Ore.)

Thad Cochran (Miss.)

Norm Coleman (Min.)

Orrin Hatch (Utah)

and Bob Bennett (Utah)
More on Burr (whom I had as "Very Unlikely to Switch," but am now moving up to "Could Very Well Not Switch"):

Senate negotiators of a compromise immigration bill are writing a catchall amendment, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to bolster enforcement provisions of the bill, including a more robust "touchback" requirement for illegal immigrants.

Republicans outside the negotiating team are asking that Graham's amendment, as well as a few others, get a floor vote before a cloture is attempted on the bill. "If they want the bill to have a chance, that's what has to happen," said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., who said he is willing to vote for the first cloture motion to proceed to the bill to allow the amendment process to begin.

Burr left open the possibility he would vote for the second cloture motion, which would ensure a final vote on the bill, if the bill is improved from his perspective by the amendments.

So would Burr still vote for the second cloture motion--the one that would shut down debate on the bill--even if these amendments do not get a pre-cloture vote? (After cloture, they do get--at most--30 more hours of debate, but, at the end of those hours, an up-or-down vote will be taken.) He sounds on the fence to me...
Well, it looks like the immigration bill will be postponed until next week. Via Kathryn Jean Lopez:

An update from the minority leader's office:

After completing work on the No-Energy Bill Thursday night, the Senate reached agreement on the schedule for the union and immigration bills. There are no roll call votes until Tuesday at 11:30. And please try to contain your disappointment, but the Senate will NOT be in session this weekend. Enjoy the four-day weekend.

On Tuesday at 11:30, the Senate will proceed to the union bill (H.R. 800) and a vote to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill (read more on the bill here ).

Following that vote, the Senate will vote on cloture on the motion to proceed to the immigration bill (S. 1639). After all post-cloture debate is used or yielded back, there will be 20 minutes of debate on a budget point of order before further proceedings on the bill.

Corker says "no" on cloture.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Some of the declarations against cloture today: McCaskill, Hutchison, Cornyn, DeMint, Crapo, Sununu, Roberts.
BUT Lott says that proponents of the bill still may have 60 votes for cloture:
The Republicans' top vote counter, Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott of Mississippi, predicted today that bill backers would get the 60 votes to bring the bill back next week, though he acknowledged the vote could be a squeaker.

"I think we're going to get it," Lott said. "But senators have a way of changing their minds and things tend to slide one way or the other."

It's not over yet! The expectations game goes on!

Malkin has some speculation on the plans Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) may have for putting forward the immigration bill.
McCaskill Against Cloture? I haven't seen it myself, but a reader has told me that, on Lou Dobbs's program tonight, Claire McCaskill said she'd vote against cloture. Did anyone else see this to confirm?

UPDATE: Video of McCaskill on Dobbs. McCaskill moves to Very Unlikely.
K-LO: Cornyn Says "No" to Cloture:

WASHINGTON— U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, top Republican on the Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee, made the following statement today regarding the return of the immigration reform bill to the Senate and his intention to oppose the motion to proceed to this deeply flawed legislation. A vote on the motion to proceed is expected within the next several days.

“Passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill has been, and remains, one of my top priorities in the Senate. It has become clear however, that I and many others will not be able to introduce amendments to fix key areas of this very complex bill. That is deeply disappointing.

“This bill was written by a small group of Senators behind closed doors. Those few amendments that will be considered next week were similarly chosen behind closed doors. I have sought an open, transparent and extensive amendment process to ensure a fair opportunity to improve the legislation.

“While I could not support the bill as it was introduced, I have worked diligently to strengthen its provisions and fix it through the amendment process in several key areas. I have continually supported efforts to address our nation’s border and interior security as well as our labor market needs, especially for Border States like Texas.

“Yet, because of this closed-door agreement, I and others will be denied an opportunity to even have our ideas considered. As a result, I have no choice but to oppose the motion to proceed to this deeply flawed legislation.

“Political expediency should never be a substitute for a full and fair debate, particularly on an issue of such importance to America’s security.”

Another via Geraghty:

John Sununu's office has just released a pretty clear answer on cloture for the immigration bill:

RE: Future cloture vote in immigration. On this bill, no. On this bill with any amendments proposed by bipartisan group, no.

Senator Sununu opposes the immigration bill - voted against it last year, and has voted twice against cloture on immigration this year – both on June 7.

So I'll keep Sununu as Very Unlikely to Switch. But this does confirm it.
More from Geraghty:

Staffers for Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said that they voted "no" on cloture last time, but cannot say with certainty how they will vote that way this time until they see what emerges.

Staffers for Norm Coleman, R-Minn., said that he has concerns that the bill is incomplete, particularly if it does not include his "sanctuary city" amendment, but until that issue is resolved, he cannot say with certainty how he will vote on cloture.

Staffers for Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., offer similar statement, that at this moment, the senator remains undecided on cloture.

I'm moving Hatch down to "Could Very Well Switch" from "Likely to Switch."

Webb (D-VA) and Bingaman (D-NM) still unsure. Via Jim Geraghty:

I just got off the phone with Jim Webb's office: He's undecided.

Another "don't know" to add: Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., does not know how he will vote yet, wants to see how the amendments shape up. According to his staff, he has been managing the energy bill and has not been able to follow the most recent developments; he still has "considerable problems" with the guest worker program.

Sen. Hutchison (R-TX) announces that she will not support cloture. From her press release:

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, today announced she will vote against bringing the immigration bill back to the Senate floor at this time.

In the coming days the Senate is expected to vote on Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 1348, the immigration bill. Sen. Hutchison said today she will oppose the cloture motion because the current bill includes amnesty provisions and more time is needed to discuss ways to strengthen the bill through an open amendment process.
“I have opposed the current immigration bill because I believe we can provide a workable guest worker program without amnesty, and this bill appears to be going in the opposite direction,” said Sen. Hutchison. “Until major changes are made that reject amnesty and a more open, fair process emerges for debating one of the most crucial issues facing our nation, I cannot support this immigration bill.
Or at least she's against it for now...
(H/T Ed Morrissey for reporting that Senate sources were thinking she would declare against cloture.)
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says he does not know yet whether he will vote in favor of immigration bill or not. But does he still back cloture?
Other local immigration news. In Arizona, a bill (HB 2779) is passed by the legislature (47-11 in the House, 20-4 in the Senate) that would punish those who hire workers illegally; Gov. Napolitano (D) has said that she will look at the bill "with great interest."
Meanwhile, in Green Bay, WI, the city is already beginning to put its new ordinance punishing those who hire illegally into effect. This ordinance has upset some activists.
Another vote list. Kate O'Beirne offers a list of "Republican senators whose intentions are unknown" and who could be crucial for opponents in the cloture vote:
Richard Burr (N.C.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Kit Bond (Mo.), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Gordon Smith (Ore.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Mike Crapo (Ind.), Norm Coleman (Min.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Tex.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Bob Bennett (Utah), and John Sununu (N.H.).
She also says that opponents "hope they can count on about a dozen democrats." My guess who they might be likely thinking of (based on my list): Webb, Dorgan, Byrd, Tester, Baucus, Rockefeller, Pryor, Landrieu, and McCaskill. That's 9. Throw in Independent Sanders and you might have 10. Two others? Maybe Nelson? Bingaman? Someone else?
Via CQ, the House leadership is holding "listening" sessions on the present immigration bill. This story stresses that the House's movement will, in part, depend upon the actions of the Senate. If the Senate bill passes, this story predicts that Pelosi will be under intense pressure to pass an immigration bill. And Jeff Flake (R-AZ), one of the most prominent supporters of a "grand bargain"-like immigration bill, says, “If the Democrats want to do it, they can do it.”
Economic Quarrels over Immigration: The White House releases a study claiming that immigration adds a "surplus" to the economy, and economist George Borjas responds, saying that "the net gains from immigration are closely related to the wage losses suffered by natives."
This present immigration bill has also caused some divides in organized labor; the AFL-CIO came out against the present bill yesterday, opposing the "guest worker plan" in the bill, while the SEIU supports the bill and the guest worker plan.
UPDATE: CIS releases a study claiming that, in Georgia, native-born workers have falling levels of employment. Some details:
  • Between 2000 and 2006 the share of less-educated native-born adults (ages 18 to 64) in Georgia holding a job declined from 71 percent to 66 percent. (Less-educated is defined as having no education beyond high school.)

  • Had employment rates for natives been the same in 2006 as they were in 2000, then 186,000 more less-educated native-born adults and teenagers would have been working. The number of less-educated immigrants holding a job increased by 218,000.

  • Less-educated blacks in Georgia have seen a somewhat larger decline in employment, from 66 percent holding a job in 2000 to just 60 percent in 2006.

  • There are nearly 800,000 less-educated native-born adults in Georgia not working. There are likely between 250,000 and 350,000 less-educated illegal aliens holding jobs in the state.

  • Wages and salary for less-educated adults in Georgia have stagnated. Over the entire six-year time period of the study, real annual wages for less-educated adults grew by just 1 percent. If there was a labor shortage, wages should be rising fast.

  • Native-born teenagers (15 to 17 years of age) have also seen a dramatic decline in employment. Between 2000 and 2006 the share of native-born teenagers holding a job declined from 22 percent to 11 percent in the state.

  • There are about 300,000 native-born teenagers not working in Georgia.

  • Immigrants (legal and illegal) increased their share of all less-educated workers in Georgia, from 7 percent in 2000 to 19 percent by 2006. Other research indicates that at least half of this growth was from illegal immigrants.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hugh Hewitt has the list of amendments (for now) from a Hill source. This list is from a Democratic email message:
Subject: Immigration Amendments

Please find below a copy of the draft amendment list. The list is tentative, in flux, and continually changing at the edges. If we get cloture to proceed to the bill, these amendments (or a similar list of amendments) would be eligible for votes before final passage.

We are still working with Republicans on a list of amendments that might be included in a voice vote-able managers’ type package.

Democratic Amendments

1199 Dodd Family parent visas

1313 Webb Community ties for Zs

1236 Baucus-Tester Strike all reference to REAL ID

1332 Sanders Employers to certify no mass layoff

1344 Byrd Border security immigration fee

1317 Menendez Increased family points in merit system

1340 Brown Employers post job at state agency

1468 McCaskill Repeat violators who hire undocumented workers

1486 Levin Iraqi religious minority refugees

1386 Leahy Refugee Scholars (may instead be 1289 on EB-5 investors)

------ Schumer Tamper-proof biometric social security card (no language yet)

1198 Boxer Reducing Y visa cap by number of Y workers who overstay

Republican Amendments

1161 Alexander Oath of allegiance for naturalization (may move to manager’s package)

1255 Bond Prohibits green cards for Z holders

1473 Coleman information sharing/sanctuary cities (Coleman is redrafting, new language not available)

1335/1258 Domenici Federal judgeship increase (redrafting)

1490 Ensign Preclusion of social security benefits

1465 Graham Enforcement, plus other potential agreed upon amendments folded in (redrafting, content not clear)

1441 Grassley-Baucus Obama Strike and replace Title III (small changes possible)

1440 Hutchison Touchback/strike and replace title vi (redrafting)

1174 Thune Probationary legal status triggers

1318 Chambliss Totalization agreement

1282 Isakson Preemption/Home Depot (redrafting)

------ Graham Criminal penalties/mandatory minimums for overstays

If this list is true, it's a clear demonstration that the supposed/theorized cloture-votes-for-amendments deal is not universal: Chambliss and Isakson have declared themselves against cloture. Was there even such a deal--was that staffer wrong? Or has the deal fallen through? Or will Chambliss's and Isakson's amendments be switched out? As the message says, this list is "in flux."
UPDATE: Some sources are telling me that not every senator who has an amendment has agreed to vote for cloture. Is the amendments-for-cloture theory bogus? Partially right? But who's agreed to what? To anything?
UPDATE: This seems to further trouble the universal amendments-for-cloture theory.
At last, some certain information! Chambliss and Isakson against cloture. Thanks to a reader, this update from CQ:

Georgia Republicans Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss will vote against moving the Senate’s immigration overhaul measure forward, the senators said today.

“I think everybody did a noble effort to try to deal with the problem in a comprehensive way,” Isakson said. “But it became apparent that the confidence level was not there.”

Isakson said he and Chambliss had heard from voters back home that they didn’t have faith in another measure that promises border action because past promises have yet to be fulfilled.

So it seems that, even if Trent Lott won't be moved by voters back home, constituent voices do affect some...

Chambliss and Isakson move to Very Unlikely to Switch.

This isn't exactly news, though some are protesting it, but, in May, Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry (D) signed into law a bill (HB1804) overwhelmingly passed by the state legislature (41-6 in the state Senate, 84-13 in the state House) that would include, in the words of many of its proponents, some of the strictest provisions in the country against "illegal immigrants."
At the Corner, K-Lo has another vote list, ranking different senators on their levels of support for the bill. A few salient differences from mine: hers has Gordon Smith (R-OR) as a member of the "Kill Bill Caucus" and has Norm Coleman (R-MN) as likely to support the bill as Trent Lott (R-MS). An interesting list of uncertain senators:

Republicans (12)

Democrats (8)

Burr (NC)

* Chambliss (GA)

* Cochran (MS)

* Cornyn (TX)

Crapo (ID)

Ensign (NV)

Grassley (IA)

Gregg (NH)

Hatch (UT)

Hutchison (TX)

Isakson (GA)

* Sununu (NH)

Bingaman (NM)

Boxer (CA)

Conrad (ND)

* Levin (MI)

Nelson (NE)

Sanders (VT)

Stabenow (MI)

Webb (VA)

Could Stabenow, Levin, and Conrad really turn against the bill? Could they switch to vote against cloture?
Synthesizing "amendments for cloture votes" and 17 R's switch theories:
By the first theory, the switching R's include: Hutchison, Thune, Grassley, Coleman, Bond, and Ensign. That's 6.
We can be fairly confident that McConnell, Lott, Kyl, and Craig will switch. That's 4.
So we're up to 10.
And the 7 to get to 17 could include (from my vote list of "likely to switch"):
Collins (R-ME)--voted in favor of bill last year
Snowe (R-ME)--voted in favor of bill last year
Domenici (R-NM)--voted in favor of bill last year
Murkowski (R-AK)--voted in favor of bill last year
Stevens (R-AK)--voted in favor of bill last year
Smith (R-OR)--voted for bill last year, but could be up for a tough re-election...
Gregg (R-NH)--voted in favor of bill last year
Hatch (R-UT)--voted in favor of cloture last year
Bennett (R-UT)--voted in favor of bill last year
That's 9 in total. So are 2 of these 9 still on the fence? Was the Senate aide of the second theory lowballing the support for cloture? Can we rely on the amendments-for-cloture-votes theory?

Correction: Strike Cornyn; I don't know why I put him in this list; he doesn't have an amendment.
Is the Hunt Already Over?: A theory (H/T Kaus) that Reid was once an opponent of the bill but now wants to see the bill passed and has maneuvered to make it happen--quoting The Capitolist (an anonymous blog for Capitol Hill staffers):
immigration reform 2.0.: 22 ammendments, 11 dem, 11 rep. anyone who introduces an ammendment has pledged to vote for cloture. dorgan's ammendment is in. hutchison is on board. pay to play, legislative style.
If this is true, and, as the AP reports 16 of the 22 amendments of the new "package" have been proposed by (former) opponents of cloture, then we could have a switch of 16 votes right from that deal, including Boxer, Hutchison, Thune, Tester, Baucus, McCaskill, Grassley,** Coleman, Sanders, Webb, Bond, and Ensign. The Capitolist post says "dorgan's amendment is in"--does he have an amendment, too, what could it be? Who else?
If we add these 12 to some people very likely to switch--McConnell, Kyl, Lott, Craig--we're at 16 switchers: one more than needed.***
**This switching would be rather abrupt for Grassley, who was one of 6 senators who wrote a letter to President Bush saying that we needed more enforcement, but check out this video of Grassley in which he says he'll vote against the bill if it has "amnesty" (see the last ten seconds or so)--he's not saying he'll vote against cloture.

***UPDATE: Though let's also remember that, since we don't (or at least I don't) know what the other amendments are, Kyl, McConnell, Lott, and Craig may also be proposing amendments--so their amendments could be included in the 16. Also, some of these 16 amendments may have multiple co-sponsors, so these 16 amendments could lead to more than 16 switches (e.g. Baucus and Tester are linked for one amendment). Or individual senators could be proposing multiple amendments--in which case these 16 amendments might not lead to 16 switches. Or we could have some combination....if this theory holds up at all...

UPDATE: Some sources are telling me that not every senator who has an amendment has agreed to vote for cloture. Is the amendments-for-cloture theory bogus? Partially right? But who's agreed to what? To anything?
Correction: Strike Cornyn: He doesn't have an amendment. (I don't think...)
UPDATE 2: I'm getting more skeptical about this theory (or think at least that it's not universal).
The New Immigration Bill That Will Take the Floor: Via the Heritage Foundation, a text of the new bill. According to Heritage, this bill "seems to incorporate the previous legislation, with some amendments." We'll have to see what else it may contain...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Searching for 60 Update: The Hill has a very interesting story on how "Webb, Tester, and McCaskill are Key Votes." These three senators--all Democrats, all newly elected, all voting against cloture last time--are being put under tremendous pressure by both sides this story says. Webb (VA), who has an amendment pending in the 22-amendment "package" of the "grand bargain," has said that, if his amendment limiting the legalization of individuals fails, he will not vote for bill. But he "would not say whether he would vote on the motion to proceed to the bill" (i.e. cloture). This story says he may be under the most pressure. On McCaskill (MO):
“It’s difficult to tell where she would be on a cloture motion at this point; she has had significant concerns, and if those things are not addressed, she wouldn’t vote to proceed to the bill,” the senator’s spokeswoman, Adrianne Marsh, said.
So she may still be unlikely to vote for cloture--and seems slightly less likely to vote for cloture than Webb. It all depends on what her "concerns" are....This story doesn't say as much about Tester.

Switching to Republicans--Will 17 R's Switch?: Via WaPo:
One senior aide close to the discussions predicted that as many as 24 Republicans would back moving ahead with the bill under the scenario envisioned _ compared with just seven GOP senators who did so previously.
Now, this prediction is probably part of the expectations game--but it probably has some grounding. If this prediction is true, they have already gained 17 votes for cloture from Republicans alone--2 more than the coalition needs to move ahead with the bill and, it seems, pass it. A lot of Republicans just got a bit more likely to switch. See revised vote list.
In Search of 22: The Amendment List So Far....:The Washington Post has a list of some of the amendments being offered in the 22-amendment "package" that will be debated in the Senate. The official list is confidential and still, it seems, being revised, but here are the amendments according to AP sources:

Under the plan, Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., would get a vote on his plan to bar illegal immigrants from getting green cards.

Democratic Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia would see consideration of his amendment to limit legalization to certain unlawful immigrants who have been in the U.S. four years or more.

Also making the list is an amendment by Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., that would bar illegal immigrants from collecting Social Security benefits for work done while they were in the U.S. unlawfully.

Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, one of only 11 Democrats who voted against expediting final action on the bill, would get a vote on her amendment to reduce the number of temporary workers admitted to the U.S. based on how many guest laborers overstayed their visas.

_An amendment by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, to mandate that all illegal immigrants return home within two years to gain lawful status. The bill only requires those seeking green cards to do so.

_A proposal by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., to increase the number of points under a new merit-based green card allocation system that could be awarded for being related to a U.S. citizen or green card holder.

_An amendment by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., to condition any legal status for unlawful immigrants on the measure's border security and workplace enforcement measures. The bill would instead allow such immigrants to get probationary legal status while those so-called "triggers" were being met.

_A proposal by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., to increase penalties on employers who repeatedly hire illegal immigrants.

_An amendment by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, to replace the employment verification system with a less-burdensome alternative.

_An amendment by Montana's Democratic Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, who opposed moving to a final vote on the bill, to remove requirements that workers present "REAL ID" driver's license to prospective employers.

_An amendment by Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., to let law enforcement agencies share information about people's immigration status.

_An amendment by Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, the sole Independent to oppose the June 7 test vote, to bar companies that have had mass layoffs from hiring foreign high-tech workers.

Also, through NYT/CQ, two other amendments being offered:

Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., has an amendment that would more than double the number of green cards issued annually to parents of U.S. citizens, increasing the cap from 40,000 to 90,000.

Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, has proposed an amendment that would ban employers from hiring guest workers for a year if they fail to post those positions with state employment agencies. The provision would require an employer to post the opening with such an agency 90 days before an application for a foreign worker is filed and for a period of one year after.

So that makes 14 so far....and the others?
The Expectations Game: Kaus, who also has some interesting results from a Democracy Corps poll, says there may be more support in the House for the "grand bargain" than some news reports allege:
Last night I ran into a veteran D.C. Democratic aide/strategist who confirmed one suspicion about the immigration bill: The House Dems are lowballing the number of votes they have for it. No way they need 70 GOP votes--though that is a number still being reported in the press. ... Senators who vote for the bill thinking the House will kill it are probably deluding themselves ... P.S.: I also suspect there is a certain amount of sandbagging going on with all the House talk about how the bill is going to be broken up and maybe just the enforcement parts passed, etc. Are they trying to ease the minds of Senate fence-sitters, assuring them the House won't approve anything like the Senate's "Grand Bargain"? This suspicion is unconfirmed, however.
One claim that probably won't "ease the minds of Senate fence-sitters":
Some House members said if the Senate passes its bill, the House is more likely to try to approve a broad bill as well. But if the Senate fails, the House will be free to move on those areas where it can find majority support.
U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay has placed a "preliminary injunction" on the enforcement of a new ordinance in Farmer's Branch, TX that would ban the renting of apartments to "illegal immigrants." The injunction would be in force while the ordinance is being litigated in the court system.
LAT story on bill introduced in House by Rep.'s King (R-NY) and Smith (R-TX) has more details about bill: it would increase some elements of immigration enforcement and border security and also expand the agricultural "guest worker" program, lowering some pay requirements and no longer requiring those who hire "guest workers" to provide housing for them.
The Pushback Begins: Today, Senators Dole, Bunning, DeMint, Grassley, Sessions, and Vitter, all Republicans, wrote a letter to President Bush saying that more needs to be done to enforce the law, offering a variety of recommendations to the president. Sen. Dole declared that the “federal government’s failure to carry out the immigration laws on the books sends the message that this country is not really serious about securing our borders and communities and stemming the flow of illegal aliens." Sen. Sessions criticized the immigration bill as "failing to secure our borders." Keep all 6 in the "very unlikely to switch" column.
In Green Bay, Wisconsin, the city council will vote tonight on a bill that would give the city authority to revoke the business licenses of those businesses that "knowingly hire illegal immigrants." Two weeks ago, the city council voted 9-3 in favor of the measure; it needs a second vote tonight to become law. The city homepage is here.

UPDATE: The measure passes.
Putting on the Squeeze: As Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) warns that the Senate might have to work through the weekend or even--gulp--the Fourth of July recess in order to cover matters in energy policy and immigration, an interesting CQ story gives a helpful summary of some of the amendments being offered.
As the Senate prepares the renew its debate in its "comprehensive" "grand bargain" immigration bill, members of the House--both Democrat and Republican--discuss splitting the bill into multiple parts--separating legalization from increased enforcement measures. Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), wants to "come up with something that is doable, sensible and plausible to the American people." Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), minority whip, thinks that "if you've got a situation where the border is still porous and you provide no interior enforcement and you provide amnesty, you're going to be in the same situation 10 years from now." Rep. Mike Pence is still working on an legalization with a "touchback" component. Pence offered a similar plan last year. [Via Drudge]

UPDATE: FOX News reports that House Republicans Pete King (NY) and Lamar Smith (TX) are proposing a plan to build on the enforcement of immigration laws. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) doubts value of piecemeal legislation:
Asked about suggestions that the immigration reforms be passed in pieces, rather than as a whole bill, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he's "not sure there are advantages" to moving forward in a "segmented way" on the immigration bill.

"Some people are talking about (it) ... I'm not talking about it; it's not something, certainly at this time that the leadership is pushing as an option but it is obviously an option that is being discussed," he said.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Norm Coleman's keeping some windows open: Here is a letter from Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) to a constituent (and a generous reader of Day In, Day Out) on his stance on the current immigration bill (emphasis added):

Dear ------------- :

Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns regarding immigration reform. I believe the current immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed. I look forward to voting for a bill which would have provided for real border security, would have eliminated the lure of continued job opportunities for illegal immigrants, and would have provided a program that would have helped identify illegal immigrants in this country with their continued presence conditioned on learning English, paying taxes and being employed.

I could not, however, support the Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act of 2007 (S. 1348) in its current form. S. 1348 was never considered by a Senate Committee and was brought directly to the floor before most of us had a chance to fully review it. Senate leadership blocked many amendments, including my own, that would have improved the bill. The repercussions of this bill are too great, and I could not in good conscience support moving forward with legislation that is incomplete and unfinished. For this reason, I voted against a procedural motion on June 7, 2007 that would have pushed the bill forward without further debate.

I believe that improving our border enforcement capabilities must be central to any immigration reform legislation. Our unprotected borders are unacceptable and represent a crisis which must be dealt with decisively and without delay. I am pleased that S. 1348 would require hiring more Border Patrol officers, constructing vehicle barriers and fences on the Southern border, monitoring the entire border electronically and ending the catch-and-release system that leads to many illegal aliens remaining in the United States, and that such improvements would have to be enacted before any permanent benefits would be given to the current illegal population and before any new guest worker program would start. This bill would also increase the penalties for many immigration violations.

I strongly oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants. Any legalized status for people already here must not be a blank check that will encourage more people to enter this country illegally. In order to be here, I believe that immigrants must undergo background checks, demonstrate proof of employment, possess English proficiency and an understanding of civics, and pay a monetary penalty if they entered illegally. S. 1348 would do much of this, but I would have preferred more stringent policies in some of these areas. I would have supported more rigorous background checks than currently in the bill and stricter workplace enforcement if given the opportunity to amend the bill. I am pleased that under S. 1348 illegal immigrants would not be eligible for Social Security benefits accrued using a false number.

You may also be interested to know that I introduced amendments that would have ended the policy of sanctuary cities. Sanctuary cities are cities where local law enforcement is barred from so much as asking the people they come into contact with about their immigration status. As a consequence, these cities are able to evade their legal responsibilities to share such information with federal authorities. This is a gag order, and it essentially means the rule of law does not apply in these cities. My amendments (S. Amdt . 1158 and S. Amdt . 1473) would lift that gag order and allow law enforcement officers in these cities to inquire about an individual's immigration status and share their findings with the Department of Homeland Security.

While immigration reform must reflect the American values of fairness and opportunity, it must also show respect for the rule of the law. It is my hope that proper debate on a border security and comprehensive immigration reform can be held in the Senate, and the result will be legislation that provides for a safer, more secure and prosperous America .

Thank you once again for taking the time to contact me. I appreciate hearing from you and I value your advice.

Norm Coleman
United States Senate

So Sen. Coleman cannot support the bill in its present form, which he calls "so incomplete and unfinished." Will it still be unfinished and incomplete if the Senate were to consider the "package" of 22 amendments currently (maybe) pending? Though he prefers stricter penalties and more extensive background checks, he seems amenable to the ultimate goal of legalization of those currently without legal status, and he does hold out hope for a debate on "comprehensive reform." Sen. Coleman voted in favor of last year's immigration bill, and he seems to be keeping his options open for this bill so far--though he has been a little more skeptical about it. To my mind, he's still a toss-up. I think the next few weeks may be crucial...

This Washington Times story mentions the way the current immigration debate may be exposing divisions in both Democratic and Republican coalitions. While summarizing some of the disagreements amongst Democratic members of Congress, it also points out:
there was new evidence last week that Republicans' deepening divisions over immigration are hurting them financially. The annual President's Dinner to raise funds for the House and Senate campaign committees raised $15.4 million, down sharply from the $23 million the event raised in 2005, the most-recent non-election year.
Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) says that he will "not vote for a revived immigration overhaul bill if it provides a path to legal status for nearly 12 million illegal immigrants who were in the United States as of Dec. 31. He has proposed an amendment to narrow that scope dramatically." Webb's discussion of the amendment is here. If that amendment were to pass, could he then vote for the bill? And what about cloture?
In Britain, some individuals express anxiety about immigration from Eastern Europe; an MP claims that some individuals are being turned down for jobs because they don't speak Polish and argues that local workers in jobs are being displaced by immigrants.
Update on the "$966 billion loophole" story: According to a policy analyst at TREA, the average holder of one of these "non-work" Social Security Numbers could earn $312,000 in benefits over a twenty-year retirement.
If the immigration bill stumbles out of its bedroom and to the Senate floor on by Thursday, will Sen. Sessions (R), one of the leading critics of the bill, miss some of the debate on Thursday to attend a fund-raiser in his home state of Alabama with President Bush?
Ensign: Z-Visas are Staying In, Bill May Be Improved: John Hawkins has an interesting interview with Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), current National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman. Toward the end of the interview, Ensign answers a question about removing the "probationary Z-visas" from the current Senate bill with:
We can't get enough votes [to remove that measure]. That's the bottom line. If we could do that, I would go with you on that. But, you don't have enough votes in the U.S. Senate to do that.
Will Ensign ultimately support the bill? That's where this interview gets tricky. For example, Ensign says:
Well, first of all, I want to see the final version. I don't think people should judge the final version. I'm against the bill as it currently stands. But, if we can make some changes to the bill, I do believe it will be a much better bill than current law is...and it will help actually clean up some things.
But does he think that the bill will be that much improved through the present amendment process?
I am not in any way, shape, or form confident that the bill is going to be fixed. As a matter of fact, I'm very doubtful. I'm saying that if we can fix it, and I'm saying I would like to fix it, I would actually like to try to solve the problem, it's just that the current bill misses the mark and it misses the mark badly.
Is Ensign positioning himself for a Kyl-like (though Kyl's not the only one saying this) "I'm not completely happy with the present bill, but it's better than things as they now stand so I'll vote for it" or is he merely saying that he's open-minded about the bill's improvement but skeptical?
Another interesting exchange:

John Hawkins: Well, John, let's say that's passed. Trent Lott has already said that they're going to take that sort of thing [requiring more extensive rules for the background check for the Z-visa] out in committee. He's already publicly said...

John Ensign: Well, we've got some good leverage on that as far as conference. We can make sure that those things are what are called, pre-conference. They have to agree to them before we ever allow them to go to the conference. We can filibuster them going to conference. So, we do have some leverage there. We haven't given everything up by letting that happen. That's a very strong...parliamentary trick that we have

But how strong is it? For skeptics of this bill, is it worth letting this bill be passed (giving in on cloture)--even while the leadership talks about removing "improvements" in the bill--in the hopes that they'll be able to maintain a filibuster to keep these "improving" provisions in during conference?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

While some in Texas worry about charges that non-citizens have voted in elections, some municipalities consider allowing non-citizens to vote. Some cities more seriously considering this move include Boston, New York, and Carrboro, North Carolina.
Via WaPo, McConnell wavers on final passage of the bill:

"When we get to final passage, it's hard to know whether the votes will be there to pass it or not," McConnell said. "We'll finish Senate consideration of the immigration bill one way or the other."

"Finish Senate consideration" as in pass, fail, cloture, or the non-cloture breakdown we witnessed earlier this month? Does Sen. McConnell really think that the present bill will be unable to get majority support? Could this be an attempt by McConnell to convince skeptics of the bill to vote for cloture--implying that the bill might not pass anyway? Will skeptics believe him?
More on the "$966 Billion Loophole": Returning to the topic of this press release:

June 15, 2007 (Washington, DC) – The immigration bill being debated by the Senate would allow over two million illegal workers who received Social Security numbers prior to 2004 to receive more than $966 billion in Social Security benefits by 2040.

Despite a provision in the bill that would prevent individuals who performed illegal work and then obtained a Social Security number after 2007 from receiving credit for Social Security taxes paid in previous years, the legislation does nothing to prevent aliens who illegally obtained "non-work" Social Security numbers prior to 2004 from claiming benefits.

The loophole was revealed Friday by TREA Senior Citizens League, a 1.2 million member nonpartisan seniors advocacy organization based in Alexandria, Virginia.

Between 1974 and 2003, the Social Security Administration issued more than seven million "non-work" Social Security numbers, which entitled some foreign nationals – some of whom were illegal aliens – to services such as Medicaid and food stamps. The majority of non-work Social Security numbers were issued during an era of less restrictive immigration policy; in some cases, aliens didn't need proof of citizenship to receive a number.

Despite their "non-work" status, millions performed unlawful work. Under the Senate legislation currently being considered, this group would be eligible for Social Security benefits.

"The Senate is telling the American people that illegal aliens wouldn't be able to collect Social Security benefits under this immigration deal, and that is flat wrong," said Shannon Benton, executive director of TREA Senior Citizens League. "The truth is that illegal aliens would receive more than double in Social Security benefits what American taxpayers have spent so far on the war in Iraq."

According to the Social Security Administration, the Social Security Trust Fund will begin paying out more than it is taking in by 2017, and will be completely exhausted by 2041.

I've spoken with Brad Phillips, the media contact for this release, and I've found out the following information. This present Senate bill would do nothing to prevent the holders of these "non-work" Social Security numbers from receiving Social Security benefits; it seems that, under the status quo, they are already capable of receiving these benefits. As Mr. Phillips pointed out, Sen. Hutchison (R-TX) proposed amendment SA 1415 (which was adopted), but this amendment only affects those who gain Social Security numbers after January 1, 2004. As the text of the amendment reads (emphasis added):

(a) Insured Status.--Section 214 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 414) is amended by striking subsection (c) and inserting the following new subsections:

``(c)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), for purposes of subsections (a) and (b), no quarter of coverage shall be credited for any calendar year beginning on or after January 1, 2004, with respect to an individual who is not a natural-born United States citizen, unless the Commissioner of Social Security determines, on the basis of information provided to the Commissioner in accordance with an agreement entered into under subsection (d) or otherwise, that the individual was authorized to be employed in the United States during such quarter.

``(2) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to an individual who was assigned a social security account number prior to January 1, 2004.

So how did they get to the $966 billion? It's complicated, but here's the method they used to estimate the numbers of "non-work" Social Security number holders. Starting with the 7 million "non-work" Social Security numbers assigned (quoting Mr. Phillips):

Our policy analyst assumed the following (most of which are sourced and substantiated by specific public information):

  • Assumed that 80 percent of non-work Social Security card holders performed illegal work at some point. This is a modest figure, considering it assumes a 20 percent unemployment rate, dramatically higher than the average U.S. unemployment rate from 1974-2003.
  • Used the number of 75 percent of illegal workers had payroll taxes withheld, whereas 25 percent of workers worked in a cash economy, based on data from the chief actuary of Social Security
  • Used data from Inspector General’s analysis of Social Security non-work file to assume 66% of illegal workers had no change in status (they remained in the country but ineligible to work)
  • Adjusted those that remained by mortality (assumed a relatively small mortality of 2% to die to age 62, but then each subsequent year adjusted for subsequent death rate of 2% per year)

And I'm not the only one interested in this story: as a result of this release, TREA Senior Citizens League was invited to testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law this Tuesday at 4pm. The Hearing is entitled “Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Government Perspectives on Immigration Statistics (Continued).” The group’s executive director, Shannon Benton, will be testifying and answering questions in front of the subcommittee. So if you're interested, you might be able to check it out on C-SPAN (if they broadcast that meeting...)! I'll follow up if I get any new information.

UPDATE 6/18:
According to a policy analyst at TREA, the average holder of one of these "non-work" Social Security Numbers could earn $312,000 in benefits over a twenty-year retirement.
On Face the Nation, Sen. McConnell "predicted that the Senate will complete its consideration of the immigration bill by July 4."
The Hunt's On!...?:More on K-Lo's "leadership source":

The Republican leadership gave Reid no assurances about cloture on the bill; the final makeup of the bill after amendments will determine whether or not cloture is invoked on the bill itself. And, unlike before the last cloture vote, the leadership was successful in getting another dozen or so Republican amendments pending to the bill. There will now be more GOP roll call votes on amendments than on last year's bill when the GOP was in charge (not counting the committee amendments).
So has the leadership rounded up enough votes for cloture or not? This source reiterates the claim that the GOP will now have more "roll call votes" for amendments for this bill on the Senate floor than they had on the floor for last year's bill (also acknowledging the absence of the standard committee process for this year's bill), and the lack of votes was one of the (supposed) reasons for supporting the filibuster last time. Is this source offering wiggle room? For whom? For what?
This Gwinnett Daily Post story has a roundup of reactions to and summary of the "Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act," which was passed last year and goes into effect July 1. The law includes a number of immigration-related components and will require those who receive certain benefits from the state to prove their legal residence; this law will also require certain employers to ensure the legal status of their employees.