• U.S.

Deal or No Deal?

2 minute read
Massimo Calabresi

Senators forged a bipartisan immigration-reform deal last week, only to see it fall apart, scuttling plans, for now, for worker visas and possible citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. Here’s what happened:

What had the Senate agreed on? A supermajority of 65 Senators had come to terms on a bill that included stronger border security as well as a chance to earn citizenship for illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least two years.

Why did the deal fall apart? The Democrats wanted guarantees that the G.O.P. would protect the deal in talks with the House’s anti-immigration Republicans. The G.O.P. refused. That raised the possibility that House-Senate negotiations would result in a hard-line bill stripped of many of the Senate’s provisions. Senate minority leader Harry Reid feared Democrats would be hurt in the November elections if they had to vote against such a bill. Republicans say Reid just wanted to deny them a legislative win they could use in the fall.

Did anyone win? Big Business is O.K. with the status quo. It preferred no deal to one that might impose tougher fines for hiring illegal immigrants.

Is immigration reform dead? Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter has vowed to turn his panel’s attention to reviving the deal as soon as Senators return from their two-week Easter break and to move a bill back to the full Senate within a week. But majority leader Bill Frist has not committed to taking the bill back to the floor.

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