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Friday, June 8, 2007

Isakson, Chambliss: Immigration Bill Not Good Enough For Georgia
Both senators vote against cloture, criticize Democratic leader for refusing to allow votes on critical amendments

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) today criticized the Democratic leadership in the Senate for refusing to allow up or down votes on Republican amendments that would strengthen comprehensive immigration reform.  

On June 7, Isakson and Chambliss helped defeat a procedural motion to cut off debate on the immigration bill and vowed to ensure that the principles of Georgians are contained in any immigration bill before the Senate. The procedural motion failed by a vote of 45 to 50.

"Senator Chambliss and I have been working hard to address the number one domestic issue in the United States," Isakson said. "However, this bill was not good enough yet for the people of Georgia. We will continue our efforts, because it is absolutely critical to our state and this nation that we secure the borders and restore credibility to our immigration system."  

"Senator Isakson and I have worked tirelessly to ensure that this bill addresses Georgians' concerns," said Chambliss.  "We must be allowed ample time to engage in a thoughtful and full debate so that we continue to improve this legislation. The window on immigration reform is closing and if we are going to have reform, it must be done in the right way--border security first, no amnesty, no new pathway to citizenship."     

Isakson and Chambliss participated in drafting sections of this year's immigration reform legislation to ensure that the new Democratic-controlled Congress would not duplicate last year's immigration bill, which would have guaranteed a repeat of 1986, when Congress granted amnesty to three million illegal immigrants but failed to secure the border.

Although the immigration bill included Isakson's border security "trigger" prohibiting implementation of the Z visa program or any temporary guestworker program until the Department of Homeland Security certifies to the President and to the Congress that the border security provisions in the immigration legislation are fully funded and operational, the Senate Majority Leader refused to allow votes on amendments that would have strengthened the bill.

Among the critical initiatives Isakson and Chambliss supported but were not allowed up or down votes were an amendment mandating spending for border security as well as an amendment to require illegal immigrants to return home in order to participate in the Z visa program.   

Chambliss was also refused an up or down vote on his amendment to preserve and protect Social Security benefits of American workers and to ensure that Congress plays a greater oversight role in totalization agreements. Totalization agreements allow workers who divide their careers between two countries to combine work credits from both countries to qualify for Social Security benefits.

Isakson and Chambliss have said throughout the debate that they would reserve judgment on the final bill until deliberations were complete.

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