Just five days before the U.S. Senators went into Memorial Day Recess (May 25th), the "secret," controversial "2007 Immigration Reform Bill" was introduced for the first time on the floor of the Senate Monday, May 21st, about 380 pages. In the next five days, Senators began throwing amendments at it and now it is speculated that there are close to 1,000 pages in this Bill and proposed amendments that the Senators need to consider and vote on, with many more on the horizon.
Tuesday, June 5th, the Senate returned to Washington D.C. Senate Leadership in both Parties have "kindly" allowed the Senators four more days to work through the Bill with all presented (yet to be presented and still being written) amendments, to be read, reviewed, analyzed AND voted on individually before the scheduled vote to approve the whole amended Bill on Friday June 8th,
The media told us that our U.S. Senators would be returning to their home states during the Memorial Day Recess to seek voter input about this controversial Bill, before Senators returned to Washington D.C. on June 5th to vote on final passage June 8th. What did our Florida Senators do during their Recess?
Senator Bill Nelson - Democrat, did not come home to Florida but went on a "fact-finding" trip to Africa. When I called and asked his Press Office why Senator Nelson (who absolutely knows how controversial this Bill is to Floridians) did not delay by a week or two, this Africa "fact-finding" trip in favor of returning to Florida for a "fact-finding" trip to give "face time" to his voter constituents seeking their input? As the only answer to this question I was provided the following prepared Statement from Senator Nelson:
"Like most Americans, I believe our immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed. But I'm reserving judgment on a bipartisan deal developing in the Senate. Right now it's still very uncertain what the final measure will look like. As debate continues on immigration reform, I'm going to insist the bill strengthens our borders and rejects blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants already in our country".
Perhaps Senator Nelson missed the part of this Bill that rescinds last year's legislation to build 700+ miles of border fencing (of which only 2-11 miles have been built) - cutting it to either 370 miles or 200 miles. Perhaps he also missed the part that gives immediate legal status with most citizen rights to all who apply for it immediately after this Bill passes with access to the permanent temporary renewable Z-Visa that conveys all citizen rights except voting.
Senator Mel Martinez - Republican, up for re-election in 2008 - very heavily involved in all aspects of this year's and last year's "Comprehensive" Immigration Bills - did come back to Florida but apparently attended ONLY pre-scheduled events, not on immigration, either not open to the public OR no information was made available until AFTER the event had happened. I called his Washington D.C. Office (and in-state offices) for close to two weeks and time after time reached voice mails that were full - not accepting any new messages. When I did reach someone, nobody seemed to know his schedule or at least that is what I was told. Even though Senator is heavily invested in and committed to the passage of this Bill, his involvement is strangely missing from his Web site among the issues he is seeking approval for from his constituents.
Apparently in Florida - voter constituent input was not important to either of our two U.S. Senators, Nelson or Martinez. Both our Florida Senators, by their actions (or inaction) on the present and past Immigration Reform (amnesty) Bill seem to definitely have political agendas that motivate and influence their votes on Immigration "Reform" - but - it certainly appears obvious that input or opinions from voter constituents does not seem to be any part of what influences their vote - because neither of them have made themselves available to us.
Immigration Amendment Votes - Only a few got voted on before the Recess.
Florida Senators Nelson and Martinez both voted against S1158, an amendment that lost by just one vote. If it had passed it would have made possible, the sharing of information between federal and local law enforcement related to an individual's immigration status. Apparently both our U.S. Senators are against providing immigration status to allow both our federal and local governments to work together.
Both Senators Nelson and Martinez voted against an amendment that would have eliminated the preference given to people who entered the United States illegally OVER people seeking to enter the country legally in the merit-based system that is in the Bill for Visas. The Bill, as written - gives 50 extra merit points to Z-Visa holders (who had to prove that they broke the law to even get their Z-Visa) allowing them to move to the head of the immigration line. These points are not available to those who have never broken the U.S. law. It appears by their votes that both our Florida Senators believe that we should be awarding those who broke the law and punishing those who have not.
Senator Nelson voted against an amendment requiring voters to show picture IDs when they walk in to vote. Senator Martinez voted in favor and thought voters should provide picture IDs. Senator -the amendment failed.
Nelson voted in favor of an amendment to ensure that employers make efforts to recruit American workers first. Senator Martinez voted against this - but the amendment passed anyway. .
Both Senators Nelson and Martinez voted against the Dorgan Amendment (that failed) for the removal of hugely expanded guest worker program from the Immigration Reform Bill. Senator Nelson did vote in favor of another Amendment (that passed) to cut by half the number of guest workers in this hugely expanded program but Senator Martinez wanted to keep all the guest workers the bill proposed so he voted against the amendment.
As it stands right now - there will be many more amendment votes that will be coming fast and furious between now and the scheduled vote to pass the whole 2007 Immigration Reform Bill and amendments by Friday. One amendment not yet voted on is to make English our national/official language but this has failed many times in the past. If this Bill stays on schedule we won't know how our Senators voted on this or most of the other amendments until after the final vote on the whole shooting-match, due to the delay in publishing their votes on-line. However, eventually - our Senator's votes on each amendment will be available to us and we can see what they hold important. It will become perfectly clear who they have been listening to. In the next elections - we will be able to compare our Senator's past actions and votes - up against their next campaign promises to return to Washington to "represent" us, their voter constituents.
Take time to call your U.S. Senators. Calls are being counted and your call counts.