Friday, April 07, 2006

Immigrant Song

Surprise, surprise.

Yesterday, we learn that Senate Democrats and Republicans had "rallied" around the proposed immigration plan and brokered a bipartisan compromise. The plan, according to the Dallas Morning News, "would place most of the 11 million-plus illegal immigrants in this country on course to become Americans."

Fast-forward 24 hours and the compromise goes down in flames. Same song, different tune. The 60-to-38 vote on the plan, according to to a New York Times report today, has all but stalled the bill. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, described the effort of some Republicans to amend the legislation as "filibuster by amendment."

The immigration legislation hits close to home, here in Stowe. Included in the immigration bill is the so-called Mikulski Amendment, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, and co-sponsored by Vermont's congressional delegation. Basically, the amendment extends for three years the “Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act,” which was signed into law last May. That exempts workers who are already enrolled in the H2B Visa program from having to reapply for a work visa. Many businesses in Stowe, including Stowe Mountain Resort and other hotels, hired seasonal workers to do hospitality jobs. The program, however, has a cap of 66,000 such visas, which has been reached early for the last two years — barring many businesses from hiring these workers.

But, with the controversial immigration bill in trouble at the moment, the Mikulski Amendment might not see the light of day. That's not good news for some Stowe businesses that have relied on the program in years past.

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