Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007/Amendments

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During the Senate debate on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 (S.1348) in late May and early June 2007, numerous amendments were introduced seeking to alter provisions in the original bill. This page details these amendments.

For more details on the bill, see the main Congresspedia page on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007


May 2007

Vitter Amendment to remove legalization provisions

On May 22 the Senate rejected, by a 29-66 vote, an amendment by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) to remove from the comprehensive immigration reform bill the only path to legalized immigration status for undocumented immigrants. The amendment would have eliminated provisions in the bill that created a new category of “Z visas” available to immigrants living in the United States illegally. The visas could be applied for by undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S. before 2007, legalizing their residency and ultimately putting them in line for citizenship if they could pass a background check, demonstrate efforts to learn English and U.S. civics and pay large fines. No other provisions in the bill provided opportunities for undocumented immigrations to legalize their immigration status.[1]


The Drum Major Institute for Public Policy opposed the amendment and selected the vote on the amendment for its middle class scorecard at It stated:

The Middle Class Opposes. The American middle class relies on the economic contributions of immigrants. While the overall immigration bill this amendment is attached to recognizes these contributions and would allow them to continue under the Z visa program, this amendment eliminates that pathway to legalization. Instead, by taking out the bill’s only means for otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants to remain in the country legally, the amendment effectively endorses a policy of imprisoning and deporting the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants currently helping to support the economy as workers, entrepreneurs, taxpayers and consumers. This mass deportation is the explicit aim of many of the bill’s supporters. But imprisonment and deportation is not only a bad policy for the middle class but also a tremendously expensive and ultimately unworkable one. Many undocumented immigrants would still evade deportation, while others would continue to enter the country illegally. Attempting to enforce such an unworkable policy would further drain scarce enforcement resources.

Equally important is the way this legislation would exacerbate the threat that undocumented workers pose to the wages and workplace conditions of aspiring middle-class Americans. Because unscrupulous employers can threaten to have their undocumented employees deported at any time, these immigrants are particularly vulnerable to exploitation in the workplace. This underground workforce competing in the labor market with American citizens perpetuates a "race to the bottom" in which employers, especially those in industries requiring unskilled labor, are driven to reduce wages and benefits and degrade employee working conditions in an effort to compete with companies that employ undocumented workers under substandard conditions. While this legislation seeks to drive undocumented immigrants out of the workplace completely, the more likely effect would be that they remain in the country but are driven further underground, increasing their vulnerability and further undermining middle-class wages and working conditions.[1]

Others who supported legalization programs like the one targeted in Vitter's amendment included:

  • Fred Feinstein, University Of Maryland School Of Public Policy: "Those who claim it would be wrong to provide a means for legalization of the undocumented conveniently overlook that it is employers, consumers, homeowners, building owners and many others who have benefited from the hard work of undocumented workers. We all benefit when they clean our offices and hotel rooms, care for our children, and tend to our family members when they are sick or in need. The people who oppose immigration reform never acknowledge that they are demanding stiff sanctions for the immigrant while supporting ‘amnesty’ for those who have benefited from their hard work." (May 23, 2007)[1]
  • AFL-CIO: "The current [immigration] system is unworkable – it has become a blueprint for exploitation of all workers, both U.S. and foreign-born. As long as this broken system persists, ALL workers will suffer because employers will be able to turn to a ready pool of exploitable workers to drive down wages, benefits, health and safety protections and other workplace standards for ALL workers… The best way to guarantee the rights and wages of all workers in this country is to give every immigrant the opportunity to become a citizen, with all the rights and duties that entails."–Richard Trumka, Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO (January 20, 2007)[1]
  • Leadership Conference on Civil Rights: "It is easy to focus on the charge that undocumented immigrants have broken the rules in order to get here. We do not need to condone violations of our immigration laws. But as we do in most other circumstances, we should also look at why these individuals broke the rules. Motives count. And most of these 12 million people have broken the rules not to “steal jobs,” to live off the government, or to take advantage of anyone else. Instead, most of them have been motivated, to the point where many have even risked their lives to come here, by the desire to escape economic or political hardships that few native-born Americans today could fully understand. And they are all too often enticed here by employers who are perfectly happy to use and abuse them in the process."-Wade Henderson, President, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (May 3, 2007)[1]

Dorgan amendment to strip a "guest worker" provision

On May 22, the Senate voted on an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), to strip a "guest worker" program from the bill. The amendment failed, 31-64.[2]

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="173" />

June 2007

Allard amendment to eliminate Z-visa preference given to illegal over legal immigrants

  • The amendment (Amdt. No. 1189), introduced by Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), would eliminate the preference given to people who entered the United States illegally over people seeking to enter the country legally in the merit-based evaluation system for visas. The measure failed, 31-62.[3]

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="182" />

Durbin amendment to ensure that employers make efforts to recruit American workers

  • An amendment (Amdt. No. 1231), offered by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), would ensure that employers make efforts to recruit American workers. The measure passed by a vote of 71-22.

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="183" />

McConnell amendment to require individuals voting in person to present photo ID

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="184" />

Feingold amendment to investigate injustices suffered by refugees during WWII

  • An amendment (Amdt. No. 1176), sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), would establish commissions to review the facts and circumstances surrounding injustices suffered by European Americans, European Latin Americans, and Jewish refugees during World War II. The measure passed by a vote of 67-26.

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="185" />

Kennedy amendment to increase immigration-related penalties associated with various criminal activities

  • An amendment (Amdt. No. 1333), offered by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), would offer penalties more moderate than the Cornyn amendment (see below). The Kennedy amendment would increase the immigration-related penalties associated with various criminal activities, and passed by a vote of 66-32.

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="186" />

Cornyn amendment to bar legal status for any aliens who have committed identity fraud or disobeyed deportation orders

  • An amendment (Amdt. No. 1184), sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), would establish a permanent ban for gang members, terrorists, and other criminals. Supporters of the overall bill overcame a major hurdle when the Senate narrowly defeated the amendment, which would have barred legal status for aliens who engaged in identity fraud or disobeyed deportation orders. The measure would have made it substantially more difficult for many illegal immigrants to eventually gain legal status, as many illegal immigrants commit identity fraud when trying to obtain legal employment. The Cornyn measure failed by a vote of 46-51, with nine Democrats voting for it and 10 Republicans voting against it.[4]

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="187" />

DeMint amendmenet to require healthcare coverage for Z-visa holders

  • An amendment (Amdt. No. 1197), offered by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), would require health care coverage for holders of Z-nonimmigrant visas. The measure failed 43-55.

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="188" />

Bingaman amendment to remove the requirement that immigrants leave the U.S. before renewing their visas

  • An amendment (Amdt. No. 1267), offered by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), would remove the requirement that Y-1 nonimmigrant visa holders leave the United States before they are able to renew their visa. The measure failed, 41-57.

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="189" />

Cornyn amendment to address documentation of employment

  • An amendment (Amdt. No. 1250), offered by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), would address documentation of employment and make an amendment with respect to mandatory disclosure of information. The measure passed 57-39.

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="190" />

Reid amendment to clarify the application of the earned income tax credit

  • An amendment (Amdt. No. 1331), sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), would clarify the application of the earned income tax credit. The measure passed, 57-40.

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="191" />

Sessions amendment to prevent Y temporary workers from claiming the earned income tax credit

  • An amendment (Amdt. No. 1234), offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), would save American taxpayers up to $24 billion in the 10 years after passage of this Act by preventing the earned income tax credit, which is, according to the Congressional Research Service, the largest anti-poverty entitlement program of the federal Government, from being claimed by Y temporary workers or illegal aliens given status by this Act until they adjust to legal permanent resident status. The measure passed, 56-41.

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="192" />

Menedez amendment to modify the deadline for the family backlog reduction

  • An amendment (Amdt. No. 1194), sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), would modify the deadline for the family backlog reduction. The measure required waiving the Congressional Budget Act (CBA) in order to get around mandatory "pay-go" provisions, so the Senate voted on a "motion to waive CBA" regarding Menendez's amendment, which requires a 3/5 (60) vote. The motion failed, 53-44.

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="193" />

Kyl amendment to modify the allocation of visas with respect to the backlog of family-based visa petitions

  • An amendment (Amdt. No. 1460), sponsored by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), would modify the allocation of visas with respect to the backlog of family-based visa petitions. It would permit more legalization applications to be submitted, but would not grow the number of visas issued. The measure passed, 51-45.

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="194" />

Clinton amendment to reclassify the spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents as immediate relatives

  • An amendment (Amdt. No. 1183), offered by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), would reclassify the spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents as immediate relatives. The measure required waiving provisions in the Congressional Budget Act (CBA), so the Senate voted on a "motion to waive CBA" regarding Clinton's amendment, which requires a 3/5 (60) vote. The motion failed, 44-53.

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="195" />

Ensign amendment to improve the criteria and weights of the merit-based evaluation system

  • An amendment (Amdt. No. 1374), sponsored by Sen. John Ensign (D-Nev), would improve the criteria and weights of the merit-based evaluation system. The amendment failed, 42-55.

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="196" />

Salazar amendment to recognize the importance of the English language

  • An amendment (Amdt. No. 1384), sponsored by Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Co.), would recognize the important role the English language plays in the United States without imposing any language-specific restrictions on public services or recognizing English as the national language. The amendment passed, 58-39.[5]

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="197" />

Inhofe amendment to make English the official language of the U.S.

  • An amendment (Amdt. No. 1151), sponsored by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla), would declare English the official language of the United States, and state that public services and materials need not be provided in any language other than English. The amendment passed, 64-33.

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="198" />

Vitter amendment to implement postponed border enforcement system

  • An amendment (Amdt. No. 1339), sponsored by Sen. David Vitter (D-La.), would require that the U.S. VISIT system—the biometric border check-in/check-out system first required by Congress in 1996 that is already past its postponed 2005 implementation due date—be finished as part of the enforcement trigger before guest worker programs go into effect. The amendment failed, 48-49.

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="199" />

Obama amendment to terminate merit-based assessments for immigrants

  • An amendment (Amdt. No. 1202), sponsored by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), would abandon the bill’s merit-based points system for evaluating immigrants in favor of one that considers familial relationships. The amendment failed, 42-55.

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="200" />

Dorgan amendment to place a five year limit on the new guest worker program

  • An amendment (Amdt. No. 1316), sponsored by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), would place a five-year limit on the new guest-worker program created under the immigration bill. This temporary worker program was a significant part of the bipartisan “grand bargain” forged early in the 110th Congress. In late May, Dorgan offered the identical amendment and it was defeated, while this time the amendment narrowly passed, 49-48.[6]

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="201" />

Coburn amendment to enforce existing border laws

  • An amendment (Amdt. No. 1311), sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), would demand that existing border security and immigration laws be enforced, including building at least a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, before the rest of the immigration bill’s provisions could be enacted. The amendment failed, 42-54.

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="202" />

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named DMI1
  2. Robert Pear and Michael Luo, "Senate opts to keep provision for guest workers," Chicago Tribune, May 23, 2007.
  3. Washington Post Vote Database Washington Post
  4. Robert Pear "Senate Rejects Immigration Stricture," New York Times, June 6, 2007.
  5. ACLU, “English-Only Amendment Would Endanger Lives, Discriminate and Create ‘Second-Class’ Citizens, ACLU says,” June 7, 2007.
  6. Robert Pear and Carl Hulse “Immigration Bill Suffers Setback in Senate Vote,” New York Times, June 7, 2007.

External resources

External articles